In recent years, Leicester Tigers' link with Brooksby Melton College has helped to support the next generation of Tigers players.
The latest success story from the partnership sees 18-year-old Tigers academy graduates George Martin and Leo Gilliland take the next step in their rugby careers following promotion to the club’s development team.
Alongside helping the academy to back-to-back league titles, the pair were also studying at the college and have since completed a Level Three Extended Diploma in Sport.
As the pair now look to follow in the footsteps of seniors like Ben and Tom Youngs, Dan Cole and Manu Tuilagi, their success is another example of how Tigers links across the region are helping to harness talent.
Offering courses for higher and further education, the BMC development team is trained by Tigers community coaches through the Achieving Academic and Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme.
They play in college competitions while students receive up to eight hours of coaching and rugby a week.
During the 2018/19 season, BMC won the Under-18 Schools County Cup title while Tigers duo Martin and Gilliland both collected international honours, for England Under-18s and Wales Under-19s respectively. College mate Alex Maxwell also gained selection at age-group level with Scotland.
College captain Josh Brown was selected by England Counties and there were also a number of call-ups at England Under-17 level and for players representing other countries including Italy, Hungary and Ukraine.
Alongside the rugby, students also gain qualifications and experience working in a sporting environment, from coaching sessions to work experience opportunities in different departments at Welford Road.
James Thorne, head of faculty at BMC, said: “This is a unique programme for young, striving rugby players to gain top-class coaching and play the highest standard of college rugby while experiencing an environment with high expectations in education, rugby and life that, if utilised, will produce many more successes like George and Leo.”
Scott Clarke is head of community and global partnerships at Leicester Tigers and he said: “Over the last three years, the rugby programme at Brooksby Melton College has gone from strength to strength, creating success for all involved on and off the pitch.
“It’s great to see students' efforts being recognised and rewarded on an international stage and within the professional game.
“Starting in September 2019, we hope to have 90 16-to-18-year-olds studying via our AASE programme and the Community Development offer, which is open to all.
"Brooksby is a fantastic environment for our AASE students and Tigers academy players, giving more youngsters the chance to maximise their potential in an amazing environment."
Applications are now open for September 2020/21 for a number of courses, including our Elite AASE programme (selection), Development programme (open to all) and FDSc Sport Science Tigers programme (open to all abilities).
To find out more information, click the link below.