Two male rugby students in a lineout with the Peterlee Campus main building in the background

Rugby Development Centre

Play and train like a pro on the Rugby Development Programme whilst you study and gain excellent qualifications that will help you progress into the future career you want.

Do you enjoy playing rugby for fun or do you have aspirations of going far in the game, maybe even going professional?

Whatever your level, there’s a place for you at our highly-respected Rugby Academy.

East Durham College runs the longest-established College Rugby Academy in the region. So come and join the best, and experience this fantastic package of training and benefits:

  • Eight hours coaching per week with our highly-qualified coaches.
  • Play in the BCS Premier North and BCS North East Leagues.
  • Use our fantastic facilities, which rival many a professional rugby club. These include a full size floodlit 3G pitch, a number of top class grass pitches, a double-sized sports hall (with a seating capacity of 500), a fully-equipped state-of-the-art gym with fixed and free weights and a range of cardiovascular, strength and conditioning training kit, modern and secure changing facilities and even an in-house physiotherapy clinic. Check out more details at the Sports Centre and Impact Health & Fitness Gym page.
  • Study 14 hours per week learning about every aspect of sport, including physiology, fitness training, fitness testing, psychology, nutrition, performance analysis and more. Meanwhile, you’ll also be taking one of our three Level 3 Sport course options (Sports Science, Development Coaching & Fitness or Performance & Excellence). These two year courses are equivalent to three A Levels and are a proven route into university or employment. There is also the option to study at Level 1 or 2 depending on your GCSE grades.
  • Take part in 36 hours of real work experience during the year, with opportunities to coach children, take part in sports development, work in a gym and many other choices.
  • Have the opportunity to complete Maths and English to GCSE or Level 2 Functional Skills (if you don’t already have them).
  • Use the state-of-the-art gym during training, in lessons or in your own time for FREE. Normal membership costs £450 a year. The gym is open seven days a week.
  • If you pick up any niggles or injuries during training or matches, our full time professional physiotherapist is on hand, completely FREE to get you back on the pitch as soon as possible.
  • You’ll also get FREE travel to and from the College with our free bus services with Arriva. Please click here for details on the free bus service.

For more details please call the sports team on 0191 518 8319 or 0191 518 5565. And why not join us on Facebook, or on Twitter at

EDC rugby squad

Previous students who have attended Team East Durham’s Rugby Development Centre include England and Bath prop David Wilson, England Women's Captain Katy Mclean and James Fitzpatrick (Centre Yorkshire Carnegie).

David Wilson (Prop. Newcastle Falcons, Bath & England RFU)

Born in South Shields, David went to Harton School and then joined East Durham College in 2001. He represented England U16 and U18 but an anterior cruciate knee injury sustained on U19 World Cup duty prompted his absence for much of the 2004-05 season.

David’s professional career started when he was signed by Newcastle Falcons, making his debut in October 2003. He then joined Bath Rugby in 2009-10 for whom he still plays.

David has currently won 37 caps for England RFU. His initial Test caps against Argentina in June 2009 had followed his selection in the starting line-up against the Barbarians at Twickenham. He went on to share in England’s 21-20 triumph over Australia in Sydney in June 2010 and a repeat win over the Wallabies at Twickenham last year. His scrummaging power saw him called up to start for England in this year’s Six Nations against Ireland, Wales and Italy.

James Fitzpatrick (Centre. Newcastle Falcons & Yorkshire Carnegie)

James studied at East Durham College in 2003-05. He studied on a Level 2 BTEC in Sport before progressing to Level 3. During his time at the College James was given the honour of touring alongside the British and Irish Lions in the Students’ equivalent, where he was awarded ‘Player of the Tour’.

James joined the Newcastle Falcons from South Shields club Westoe during the 2009-10 season before going on to score 13 tries in 22 matches, winning an England Counties call-up by the end of the campaign. In March 2014, James was signed by Yorkshire (Leeds) Carnegie, helping them to a third place finish in the RFU Championship.

Katy McLean, MBE (Fly Half. England Women RFU Captain & Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

The England Women RFU World Cup winning captain attended East Durham College in 2002-05. Katy now has over 70 caps for England and took over the captaincy following the 2010 World Cup where the team narrowly lost to New Zealand in the final. Four years later she lead the team to the final, where they were victorious, beating Canada 21-9
at the Stade Jean Bouin in France.

Until recently, the No. 10 mixed her rugby playing with her job as a primary school teacher at the Bexhill Academy in Sunderland until she took the ‘agonising’ decision to leave teaching for pro rugby; stating the prospect of Olympic rugby glory swayed her decision to go pro.

Katy also has an MBE to her name after receiving the honour in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List for her Services to Rugby.

Lee Little (Second Row. England Colleges RFU Captain 2014)

Lee came to the College in 2011 to study a Level 2 BTEC after not reaching the required grades for the elite scholarship programme. He successfully gained his Level 2 and moved on to Level 3 which granted him access to the scholarship.

In 2013, Lee was picked to play for England Colleges; he played and captained the team in every game that season.

He has now joined Bishop Burton College on a higher education course and their rugby scholarship which has been created as part of a developing relationship with Hull RUFC and Premiership side Leicester Tigers.

See what Ofsted have to say (Ofsted Inspection Report, March 2014)

EDC rugby fly half taking a conversion “Teachers demonstrate good subject knowledge and expertise, delivered with great enthusiasm to motivate and engage students.”

“Support for students is good. They value particularly the individual tutorials, and the availability and approachability of teachers outside lessons, via text, email or the VLE for help and advice to support their good progress.”

“Accommodation and resources are excellent, including outstanding sports facilities used effectively to develop students’ practical skills and support progress.”

“Students value the enrichment programme in sport highly. They benefit from the good opportunities to progress, achieve and succeed in chosen sports academies or elite athlete scholarships with structured training programmes, fixtures in the British Colleges league and selection to represent college and regional teams.”

For more details please call the sports team on 0191 518 8319 / 07817 603 315 or 0191 518 5565.