Talented sportsman and Warrington Collegiate student Matt Barker will fly the flag for England this summer when he flies to America after securing a prestigious scholarship.
The 18-year-old, who is set to leave for the States at the end of July, has secured a scholarship to study Health Science and Marketing while playing rugby for Springhill College in Alabama.
Matt, who is in his final year at Warrington Collegiate enrolled on the Rugby League BTEC Extended Diploma Level 3 – run in partnership with Warrington Wolves – says he owes a lot to the College.
The former Lymm High School pupil said: “I’ve been playing rugby since I was in Year 7 and this course was the next step for me in learning about the sport. I had never played rugby league before I came to Warrington Collegiate so it has helped me to progress with different parts of my game.”
As well as playing for the Warrington Collegiate team, Matt also continues to play for Lymm Rugby Club alongside his studies as a fly half.
Matt added: “It’s harder than you think to make the transition between the two codes. Rugby league is much more physical and I’ll be able to take the things I have learned on the course here with me and apply them when I’m playing rugby union in America – it’s a really exciting opportunity.”
Ryan McNeeley, Lecturer in Sport, has watched Matt progress during his time at the College.
He said: “Matt is a very talented rugby player and has been outstanding for the Collegiate team. He also consistently produces academic work of a high standard and is predicted to achieve D*D*D*.
“Matt has successfully applied and is receiving a four-year scholarship at Springhill College in Alabama – I couldn’t be prouder.”
Matt isn’t the only student studying on the College’s Rugby League course to find success.
Fellow student Tom Millington started playing rugby league at just eight-years-old, with the highlight to date when he was signed for Salford Red Devil’s Under 19s team in October.
The prop forward, who also plays for Crossfields ARLFC and the Warrington Collegiate team – which he also helps to coach – is destined for great things.
Since starting the Warrington Wolves Extended Diploma, the 18-year-old said his rugby has developed massively, with the course also helping him to get in shape.
He said: “A lot of people ask what’s the point in even trying to improve when there’s no chance of anything happening with it and they just do it for fun. That’s what I thought but then if you keep on going, something can happen, like it has with me – you should never give up.”
On the course, Tom said: “The course has helped me massively, even the theory side of it helps as well as the actual rugby, it’s all related and helps you think outside the box when you put it into practice.”
As well as hoping to continue playing for Salford and progressing to the First Team at some point, Tom is also looking at University and hopes to study Sports Management and Coaching.
“Lecturer Ryan said: “Tom has been an outstanding player for the Collegiate and has consistently performed at a very high standard. Tom has also been assisting with the Collegiate side and has added a number of ideas and has done some specific one-on-one coaching with a number of the forwards.”