Michael scored his first professional contract with Nottingham Rugby Club in February. A testament to his hard work and dedication, Michael successfully combined his new career with his studies to complete his degree.
Michael, who hails from Ballymena, has had a passion for rugby from a young age, playing the sport from four years old.
“Rugby has always played a massive part in my life, I’ve been playing the sport since I was 4 years old. I started off in the youth section at Ballymena and throughout school I played for Ballymena Academy. After school I was fortunate enough to join the Ulster Rugby Academy for three years, whilst I was studying at Ulster University.”
Michael decided to study at Ulster University after being accepted into the ‘Talented Athlete Entry Scheme.’ The Talented Athlete Entry Scheme is designed to assist talented young sports performers in gaining access to a quality education at Ulster University whilst attaining success at the highest levels within their chosen sport. The scheme allowed Michael to get his degree whilst allowing the time and flexibility to focus on playing rugby.
“The Talented Athlete Entry Scheme was the perfect fit for me. I always wanted to pursue rugby but it was important to me to be able to study also, and this scheme gave me the perfect balance, with the flexibility to allow me to complete my degree across a longer period of time. I completed first year full-time, second year I split over two years, and because of covid I was able to finish my final year full-time, as I wasn’t able to play rugby.”
In February 2021, Michael moved to Nottingham to pursue his rugby career even further, after being offered a Professional contract with Nottingham. Still studying, Michael finished his final semester of university in England.
“Moving to Nottingham with a Professional rugby contract has been a dream come true and has been a brilliant experience! I’ve secured a two year contract with the team, and I will see where rugby takes me over the next couple of years. Ulster University has been extremely accommodating with me moving to England and my lecturers were very helpful while I was trying to finish my degree and dissertation whilst settling into a new rugby contract. In the future, I’d consider doing a PGCE potentially, but I’ll see what happens with my rugby career first.”