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From the classroom to the rugby pitch – scoring a try with Strathclyde Business School

By Ross Curle - Posted on 21 May 2015

Ross Curle, Strathclyde Business School alumnus, former professional rugby player and marketing executive at Scottish Rugby, describes his journey from academia to sport and back again.

I always knew I wanted to work in sport and was luckily given the opportunity to do so professionally. I now work as a marketing executive at Scottish Rugby and I’m incredibly passionate about what I do and look forward to work everyday.  I got where I am through a number of opportunities including studying at Strathclyde Business School (SBS), however, I didn’t do so along a direct path and getting to where I am today required a few detours.

In 2005, I had my first encounter with university.  I would describe this period of my life as ‘right place/wrong time’.  I knew that Strathclyde was a great university and it would open me up to a number of opportunities.  However, I wasn’t prepared for the commitment and had simply followed friends from school to university.  At that time, I really wanted to play rugby professionally.  I continued focusing most of my attention on training and subsequently found myself scraping through university by the skin of my teeth.

In November 2006, I was offered a rugby contract by Viadana, North Italy.  For me, it was a no-brainer – I was off!  I always knew I would return to SBS but realised this simply wasn’t the right time for me.

My three years spent playing in Italy were an unbelievable experience and, apart from university, probably the most significant factor in getting me to where I am now.  I was 18, spoke no Italian and had no experience of living abroad.  Safe to say, I was outside my comfort zone.  This was a challenge but an invaluable learning experience.

I made more than 50 appearances for Viadana, including playing league and cup finals, the Heineken Cup and winning the Italian Super Cup.  Playing at the top level against the best international players was a dream come true, but all the while I was learning new skills without even realising: leadership, performing under pressure and teamwork.

So why did I decide to come home?  I wanted to ensure I had a plan when I finished rugby.  It’s a career with a shelf-life and I had seen so many careers ended by injury.  Moreover, my three years of ruby showed me there was much more to the game than just playing – the commercial, management and operational elements. I turned down a two year contract extension and returned to SBS.

University was a far more beneficial experience for me the second time round.  I had gained a new perspective, knowing I wanted to be there and what I wanted to learn.  I came away with a broad understanding of marketing theory and enjoyed how my course tied in to relevant industry examples, giving me an understanding of how I could practically apply my skills.  I was also given unique opportunities such as working at the 2011 Dubai Airshow and completing an internship at BAE Systems through the Saltire Foundation.

I enjoyed how Strathclyde encouraged students to get out there and engage with external activities. During my university career I continued to play and coach rugby, completed two internships and a project with Glasgow Warriors.

When Scottish Rugby advertised the marketing executive role, I once again knew it was a no-brainer.  Using the skills I had acquired at SBS I applied and was successful.  This role has allowed me to combine my passion and academic background.  No two days are the same. It’s a very dynamic environment with a high number of projects including Glasgow 7s, Rugby World Cup, Glasgow Warriors, Women’s Rugby and Club Rugby.

I know I’m in a very good place here at Scottish Rugby and cannot speak highly enough of Strathclyde’s contribution. SBS pushed me to think differently, and treat challenges as opportunities, which has given me a much better perspective on life. I am nowhere near the finished article but my time at SBS has certainly helped me along the way.

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