Five finalists have been announced in the 2017 Academic Achievement award, presented by RUPA's Education Partner Kaplan, with the winner to be announced at the annual Volvo-RUPA Awards Luncheon in Sydney on Wednesday.
Emilee Cherry (Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens), James Dargaville (Brumbies), Tom English (Rebels), Dane Haylett-Petty (Force) and Dom Shipperley (Rebels) have all been nominated for the award, which is presented annually to the player who has undertaken and excelled in any level of education. It reflects the players’ dedication and commitment to his or her personal or professional development across a broad range of studies, and is not confined to university level education.
Finalists for the Academic Achievement award are put forward by the RUPA Player Development Managers, and the winner is decided by RUPA Chairman Bruce Hodgkinson SC and RUPA President Dean Mumm.
The Academic Achievement award was first presented in 2011. Its’ previous winners are Ben Daley (2015), Matt Hodgson (2011), Tom Kingston (2013), Pat McCabe (2012), Alicia Quirk (2016) and Jeremy Tilse (2014).
Emilee Cherry (Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens):
Emilee recently completed five years of study and qualified as a teacher with a Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education, with a GPA of 5.640, from the University of Queensland.
It’s an impressive feat when you consider that Emilee has barely missed a tournament on the World Rugby Sevens series since making her debut in 2012, as well as playing a key role in the team’s Gold Medal winning campaign at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (2016).
She was a member of the team to win the opening leg of the Women’s World Series in Dubai this month.
James Dargaville (Brumbies):
In 2017, James completed his Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree at Sydney University, a particularly huge achievement given it was a face-to-face degree and James has been based in Canberra since signing for the Brumbies in 2015.
James consistently obtained excellent results in a degree which is accepted as one of the more challenging, whilst maintaining a regular place in the Brumbies’ team as they won the Australian conference. James is to be congratulated for his determination, perseverance and ability to negotiate a way around his study difficulties with his university.
Tom English (Rebels):
2017 saw Tom complete his Bachelor of Arts and Applied Science at Sydney University which he commenced in 2009, balancing his time well between Rugby, education and his commitments on the RUPA Board as the Melbourne Rebels’ Player Director.
Away from Rugby, Tom has also set up his own mental health blog whilst continuing to develop on the wing as a regular member of the Rebels’ team. Tom leads by example and continually encourages his team mates to maximise their opportunities on and off the field.
Dane Haylett-Petty (Force):
Dane Haylett-Petty, a regular for the Wallabies over the past two seasons as well as a leader at the Western Force during a tumultuous season, completed his Bachelor of Commerce in 2017.
He is using the skills learned at Curtin University to open, with his sister, a second outlet of their healthy drive-through food store in Perth; Nourish and Feed.
Dom Shipperley (Rebels):
Melbourne Rebels star and two-Test Wallaby Dom Shipperley’s 2017 season was rubbed out due to a serious injury, with the utility back making the most of the situation by prioritising his studies while in rehab over the course of the year.
He completed his final two subjects for a Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in Science) this year, far earlier than originally anticipated, after completing a total of seven subjects (close to a fulltime workload) between April 2016 and June 2017. Starting in 2011 at the University of Queensland, his degree was completed cross-institutionally, with his final units through RMIT and Swinburne University.
The Academic Achievement award is one of eight major awards presented at the Volvo-RUPA Awards Lunch including the RUPA Medal for Excellence, the most prestigious player-voted honour in Australian Rugby, as well as the Taylors Wines People’s Choice Australian Player of the Year and Community Service awards.