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Trailfinders Rugby Academy men's scholarship programme

Our scholarship programme offers you the opportunity to progress as a professional rugby player alongside gaining your university degree.

 You'll be joining one of the most comprehensive rugby programmes in England, that will provide you with the opportunity to be part of the Ealing Trailfinders pathway from rugby academy to playing men’s rugby at the highest levels. At the same time, you have the chance to get your degree qualification, allowing you to safeguard your future away from the rugby pitch.

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scene of rugby match

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Daily elite-level coaching by the Ealing Trailfinders coaches & training with the club's 1st XV

The coaching team that we have put in place are of the highest calibre and with international experience behind them.

The extensive coaching on offer includes expert kicking and scrum coaches as well as the backs, forwards and skills coaches who oversee the day-to-day rugby activity. Our head coach Paddy Gill brings plenty of experience from the National Leagues, having been involved with the Trailfinders during their National One winning campaign. He coached Chinnor and has also been involved in university rugby before, leading St Mary’s in the BUCS League. The coaching team includes forward coach Dan George, former Ealing Trailfinders player Will Davis and former Ulster Academy manager & Ireland U20 head coach Kieran Campbell. Transition coach Brett Wilkinson also holds the scrum coach position with the Ealing Trailfinders team. David Johnston, skills and kicking coach, also coaches the first team at Ealing Trailfinders. 

As an academy player you may also be invited to train with the first team on a regular basis. This is not only during the week in the build-up to matches, but also other opportunities against first-class opposition. These sessions are tailored around the university timetable to ensure the right balance.

Backroom team, medical, nutritional and personal support

The backroom team includes analysts, strength and conditioning coaches. The full-time medical staff, from physiotherapists to psychologists, ensure that our players are in the best condition possible for training and matches, and they work alongside the nutritionists to assist you with your dietary needs. The academy is resolute in taking care of the players by being the first Championship club to recruit a player development and transition manager to help the players to evolve and enhance their profiles off the pitch as well as on. Our pastoral support includes mentoring, educational assistance and chaplain guidance. 

Brunel University London also offers a wide range of services from study support to health, mental health and wellbeing and employability

Player opportunities from university rugby to the Ealing Trailfinders 1st XV

The academy provides plenty of opportunities to develop your rugby skills from university leagues to Championship level:

  • University rugby is an excellent environment for you to develop as a player. The BUCS leagues are home to all the university sides in the UK. Brunel competes at the premier level of BUCS rugby and has a fixture list that includes many of the top university rugby programmes in the UK. Each Wednesday up to 4 men’s sides compete in the BUCS leagues. In February 2022, the Brunel University London 1st XV was promoted to move up a league to BUCS Premier A South, the tier below BUCS Super Rugby. Brunel also holds fixtures against other high-quality opposition such as the Army, RAF, Navy, Oxford Blues, Cambridge Blues and many other national league sides.
  • The Trailfinders Rugby Academy competes across multiple levels of Sevens. The Brunel sides enter the BUCS 7s tournaments competing against other top rugby playing universities. The team competes in the UK Super 7s Series. The UK series is the highest form of invitational Sevens in Great Britain with many of the top Sevens teams and players competing in a series of four tournaments throughout the summer. In addition to the UK Super 7s the academy also enters other elite invitational tournaments in the UK.
  • In addition to our Brunel BUCS sides, Brunel University field a Saturday side competing in the RFU leagues. This provides academy members with further playing opportunities on a weekly basis.
  • The Ealing A team competes against other professional clubs such as Saracens, Ospreys and Exeter plus many more. The A team is made up of predominantly academy players with several 1st XV players and is a vital stepping stone for academy players towards 1st XV and professional rugby.
  • Academy players have a direct route towards the 1st XV rugby at Ealing Trailfinders. We have already seen seventeen players progress to appearances in the first team since the academy was launched. 
  • For players at the relevant stage in their development, loan opportunities are an important and meaningful stage in progressing towards the 1st XV. Academy players have had successful loan opportunities at the National League and other Championship clubs, as well as overseas. Once a player is at this relevant level, the academy staff organise and manage these opportunities for academy players.


The academy players share their time between the Trailfinders Sports Club and the university. At Brunel you’ll have free access to all of the sports facilities, including the Indoor Athletic Centre, the gym and sports centre and the outdoor sports park. The university has plenty of green spaces for those who prefer to exercise outdoors. There is also a new performance gym specifically for the academy players as well as a new 3G pitch. 

The Trailfinders Sports Club, home of Ealing Trailfinders, is a 5,000 capacity stadium with 4G pitches. The facilities at the club are constantly expanding. The newest addition is a new state-of-the-art indoor training centre that includes a rugby pitch and changing rooms.

Campus accommodation and commuting

If you decide to live in university accommodation, your room will be next to the Brunel sports facilities and you will share a flat with other sport scholars. With everything on site, sports facilities, great eating spots, teaching facilities and vibrant student life from student societies to parties, there’s a real community feel. If you want to rent off-campus, Brunel Student Lettings, our on-campus letting agency can provide help. For those who decide to commute Brunel is easily accessible by road, rail, underground and bus.

Life as a scholarship student

As an academy player you will have free access to the Ealing Trailfinders games to support your club.

Throughout the year there are a number of events which focus on your growth away from the sport, with talks from industry experts as well as practical demonstrations. 

During the pre season period in 2020, the England coaching staff, led by Eddie Jones delivered a series of coaching sessions directly to the academy, showing what is needed to be at the top level of the club game.

Engagements and team building events with the Royal Navy Commandos and RAF contribute to the development of intra personal and group skills to perform in the most intense of environments.

Our scholars were treated to an evening with Michelin-star chef, Adam Gray who delivered a workshop on preparing food for performance. He gave the players an expert insight into how to cook well and how they can ensure that their diet influences their performance positively.

During The Rugby Championship, Charlie Dearman and Sione Funaki were invited to Sky Sports for a behind the scenes tour of the facilities for the New Zealand v Australia match. The academy duo saw the game alongside three World Cup winners as the action unfolded in the studio. Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Lynagh and Will Greenwood were here on punditry duty before spending time chatting to the scholars.

These are just a few examples of the events from the past years. 

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student talking to camera in a car

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Financial support

Our scholarship programme offers bursary and financial assistance with the university accommodation and tuition fees. These are variable amounts and based on individual decisions.