Kayleigh and Kenny off to Japan to support Scotland in Rugby World Cup

August 2019

Two stand-out sports therapy students from UCB will be joining the Scotland rugby team for their campaign at this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, which takes place from 20 September to 2 November.

Kayleigh Jones and Kenny Simpson, both third year BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy students, have landed the experience of a lifetime after impressing players with their skills at the Six Nations this year.

The opportunity to support the players at the tournament, which arguably saw the biggest Six Nations comeback ever, arose thanks to UCB Sports Therapy lecturer Gareth Bate, a sports therapist with Scotland Rugby who has been part of the medical support team for five years.

And now, thanks to their hard work, the two students will be flying out to the Land of the Rising Sun to provide soft tissue therapy support for the 31-man squad as they attempt to win the Web Ellis Cup.

They will be with the team from their first match against Ireland on 22 September until the end of the group stages on 13 October, where Scotland – ranked 7th in the world - will play the hosts in the last game of Pool A, both games taking place in Yokohama City.

The pair not only receive an official kit, but a ticket to all of the games in the 20-team tournament, which is seeing record ticket demand for matches in advance of the six-week event.

Kayleigh, aged 21 and from Bristol, said: “I’ve wanted a career in sport since I can remember. And, wow, what an unimaginable start to that career. It is an incredible opportunity to work alongside Scotland Rugby, especially during the World Cup and I am very excited to get stuck in and help the team towards success. 

“I am mostly looking forward to developing as a sports therapist and being part of a worldwide event. I absolutely love to travel and learn about different cultures, so I’m really excited to explore Japan. I have already researched the must-see attractions that Japan has to offer, which I hope to visit in my spare time.”

Kenny, aged 22 and from Reading, said: “This opportunity is a dream come true for me. I have been a massive Scottish rugby fan for as long as I can remember, having grown up with Scottish parents.

“A Rugby World Cup Is a special event and I know this first-hand, having volunteered at the 2015 World Cup in England and Wales. I am beyond excited to experience this tournament, not from the sofa, but from within the Scottish camp in a country I have never visited.”

Gareth said the pair was whittled down from four outstanding students in a third year cohort of 74 who were invited to apply to join the team, which includes one of the stars of this year’s Six Nations, fly-half Finn Russell.

“They each had to submit a job application and were interviewed by individuals and groups of staff, before having a chat with some of the players,” he said.

“It was felt that Kayleigh and Kenny were the right choice for the two coveted positions, they are extremely hard-working, proactive and will fit in well.

“When they’re out there, they will be called upon 2-3 times a week to aid with post event recovery and pre-match preparations. 

“They will be staying in the same cities as the squad, so, while they are primarily there to support the players in achieving success, we want them to use this experience to see a different culture and travel a little around Japan.

"Hopefully, there will be plenty of opportunities to explore.”

Both Kayleigh and Kenny graduate from UCB this year, Kayleigh taking on a role as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at UCB, as well as working with Coventry United Ladies Football Club in the Premier League, while Kenny has secured an internship with RFU Championship side London Scottish. 

Kenny also worked with Coventry rugby club in the RFU Championship during his degree, as well as with Northampton Saints in the Premiership.

*The 2019 Rugby World Cup is the first ever to be held in Asia, hosted in 12 cities, and is poised to draw more than 400,000 international visitors.

Scotland’s pool also includes Ireland, Russia and Samoa, as well as Japan.

UCB’s Sports Therapy BSc (Hons) degree, which is accredited by the University of Birmingham, received over 90% overall satisfaction in the 2019 National Student Survey. Check out the full range of sports-related college and degree level courses at UCB here.

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