2018 Academic Achievement finalists announced

By Pete Fairbairn, 06.12.18

We're pleased to announce the five finalists to win the 2018 Academic Achievement Award, presented by RUPA's partner Open Universities Australia, with the winner to be announced at the Volvo-RUPA Awards Luncheon next Wednesday, December 12.

Sam Carter (Brumbies), Tom Cusack (Brumbies), Wharenui Hawera (Brumbies), Tom Robertson (NSW Waratahs) and Fereti Sa'aga (Melbourne Rebels) have been shortlisted 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 AM SC.

The Academic Achievement award was first presented in 2011. Its’ previous winners are Ben Daley (2015), James Dargaville (2017), Matt Hodgson (2011), Tom Kingston (2013), Pat McCabe (2012), Alicia Quirk (2016) and Jeremy Tilse (2014).

Sam Carter

Sam will complete his Bachelor of Business and Commerce (Human Resource Management) from USQ at the end of this Semester. Whilst that is impressive, that alone does not reflect the hard work and dedication he has made throughout his education pathway.

He started in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts at Sydney University but transferred to USQ in 2012. Not being a natural studier, Sam took a break from formal education before returning in 2015. Sam realised the importance that a degree offers for life outside of Rugby and demonstrated that it is never too late to restart, and to complete, a course.

Tom Cusack

Tom completed his Bachelor of Applied Business (Management) through both Ducere Global Business School and the University of Canberra. In the past eighteen months Tom has completed the remaining twelve required units necessary to receiving his degree, with a GPA close to 6.

It is the speed in which Tom has completed this degree and the high standard of work in which he has held himself, whilst having a professional Rugby contract, that is a true testament to his academic achievement. 

Wharenui Hawera

At the end of 2018, Wharenui will receive his Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science from the Southern Institute of Technology in New Zealand. Considering that this degree is a face to face course, he has shown how to ‘think outside the box’ and negotiate a way forward with his course convenor to work independently to meet requirements whilst in Australia.

As part of that, Wharenui has undertaken a yearlong internship and research project with the Brumbies Physiotherapy department, and has shown a willingness and drive to succeed academically which is reflected in his on field successes.

Tom Robertson

Throughout the 2018 season, Tom was the only player to undertake a full-load of subjects whilst playing Super Rugby and being involved in Wallaby squads. This capability is a testament to the importance that Tom places on academics and, as a result, he looks to graduate from his Masters of Public Health (University of Sydney) in early 2019.

The importance he places on study, whilst balanced with his football commitments, is further reinforced through the most recent semester of University he had, where he received only Distinctions and High Distinctions.

Fereti Sa'aga

Like many of his peers, Fereti is not a naturally studious person, leaving school early and being committed to his growing family (including three kids and one on the way). However, in 2018 Fereti will complete a Certificate IV in New Small Business through Elite Athlete Business School. 

This course is his first study since leaving high school and reflects his awareness of life balance, pathway development and the importance of planning for his, and his family's, future. During his time in the course, he has been an immensely proactive, engaged and enthusiastic student.

The RUPA Academic Achievement award is one of eight major awards presented at the Volvo-RUPA Awards Luncheon on Wednesday December 12. To view finalists in other categories, please click on the following links:

- RUPA Medal For Excellence

- RUPA Newcomer of the Year

- Taylors Wines People's Choice Australian Player of the Year

- NRC Players' Player

- Australian Men's Rugby Sevens Players' Player

- Australian Women's Rugby Sevens Players' Player

Pete Fairbairn
Communications Manager
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