The University of Sydney Business School has a long association with the Sydney University Football Club and supports elite athletes through scholarship programs. We recently spoke to Business School students and Sydney University Football Club rugby players, Jack Blair and Guy Porter, about their university experience as athletes.

What do you love the most about being an athlete?

Jack: I love being in a team environment and the opportunity to push myself to be the best.

Guy: Particularly playing Rugby, being an athlete at University provides an incredible support network to structure my life around. There’s always that next goal to work towards, next week to focus on or the next training session to improve in. More than that, there’s the next chance to surround myself with people who are similarly ambitious and whose company I enjoy a great deal.

How do you balance the pressures of being an athlete with study and other aspects of your life?

Jack: I make sure to study when I can and when I need to, so that I can still attend all my sports commitments and perform in both. Trying to achieve at rugby and university can mean missing out on some fun but I have a good idea of when I can take time to enjoy myself.

Guy: Everyone has the challenge of balancing competing pressures in their lives. For an athlete, the reality of training and competition is just a different form of pressure. When your commitments to your sport are fixed, everything just has to fit in around that. There are times when that is extremely challenging, but you just make it work.

What is your proudest achievement overall so far?

Jack: Starting first grade debut in front of my family.

Guy: Since I have been at University I have been through my share of set backs from injury, so I suppose I am proud to have overcome four fairly major surgeries and now be back playing Rugby and enjoying my sport. Beyond that, I was lucky to have a taste of the NRC and test myself against some of the best in my sport. I’m proud to have been able to compete at that level.

What are your plans for after you graduate?

I want to be a professional rugby player, but until that happens I have applied for some graduate jobs in consulting and IT.

Guy: I have a couple of years left at Sydney University but I am committed to doing something with Rugby once I finish my degree. Whether that means playing overseas whilst completing some further study, or focusing on pursuing a professional opportunity in Rugby, I’m not quite sure yet.

How has support from the University of Sydney Business School been helping you achieve your career goals?

Jack: The Business School has been very accommodating to my sporting commitments, which has allowed me to continually achieve both on and off the field. In addition to this, they have helped ease the financial pressure of my degree which has reduced extraneous stress and allowed me to focus more on rugby and my studies.

Guy: The Business School has been very generous in providing the support I’ve needed to concurrently pursue my sporting and study ambitions. That has taken the form of financial support, flexibility in study requirements and the opportunity to meet professionals with a wealth of experience that has genuinely helped me in the direction I have taken with my study.

Have you taken up any other extra-curricular activities outside of sports that you would recommend?

Jack: Doing some acting/extras work has been a lot of fun and something very different from my usual activities.

What has been the highlight of your time at the University of Sydney Business School so far?

Jack: Learning practical skills and information that I can immediately apply to real world business decisions.

Guy: The highlight of my time at the Business School has probably been the chance to meet and cooperate with people, particularly in subjects that I have chosen because they are of particular interest to me and are contributing to my major.

What advice would you provide to other students looking to pursue a career in both sports and business?

Jack: Take every opportunity to get better and at the risk of sounding a little cheesy, believe that you can get better.

Guy: My advice for someone pursuing a career in both sports and business is that at some point you will be required to prioritise one over the other. The support networks provided by your club and the Business School are invaluable and by all means, make the most of the time you are able to manage both with maximum commitment. It is important during this time to be properly exposed to the reality of each but at some point one has to take precedence. What you think and how you value your sport or study might be different when you leave school from when you are called to make that decision but be prepared to commit wholeheartedly.