In the game for life: Lifelong welfare, education and support for rugby players


   School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science

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  Assoc Prof Zoe Saynor, Dr David Prince, Dr Sahen Gupta  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a fully-funded 3-year PhD to commence in October 2024. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Science and Health and the candidate will join the Physical Activity, Health and Rehabilitation Thematic Research Group. Whilst the PhD will be supervised internally by Associate Professor Zoe Saynor, Professor Fiona Wilson, Dr David Price and Dr Sahen Gupta, this exciting opportunity also brings additional collaboration with colleagues from the Rugby Players Association (RPA), International Rugby Players, Western University Ontario, The University of Cape Town, Cardiff Metropolitan University and a number of male and female retired international rugby player co-researchers. 

Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive a contribution of £1,500 per year towards consumables, conference, project or training costs.

Costs for student visa and immigration health surcharge are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.  

The work on this project could involve:

  • Characterising the health status, lifestyle behaviours and welfare support need of retired rugby players (community and elite)
  • Characterising important health domains (including-female specific), and cardiovascular disease risk of retired rugby players 
  • Co-development of evidence-based educational resources and care pathways, aimed at improving knowledge around long-term athlete health, health surveillance programmes, support pathways
  • Exploring the welfare needs of women’s players currently involved in the game

Project description

To ensure the well-being of rugby players throughout their lives, research is necessary to understand the problems, assess current support services, and collaboratively develop education and support programs for health surveillance, lifestyle modification, prevention and treatment. Currently, support measures for retired rugby players are not systematically implemented, even at the professional level, despite the duty of stakeholders to protect and promote long-term health and research is urgently needed in the rapidly growing women’s game. This PhD studentship is an exciting multidisciplinary and international research collaboration that aims to comprehensively characterise the welfare of retired rugby players, and co-develop and evaluate educational and support opportunities to improve their lifelong health.

This PhD program provides the opportunity to develop a broad range of research skills including project management, grant writing, as well as publishing and conference presentations. The PhD research will also utilise and provide opportunities to develop technical skills in physical and mental health assessment, a mixture of qualitative and quantitative approaches, data analysis and interpretation.

General admissions criteria

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements

This project presents an exciting opportunity to work as part of a global multidisciplinary team. We are looking for a determined, motivated individual with a strong interest in long-term athlete health and player welfare and who enjoys working in laboratory and sports settings. Additionally, the student must be able to work as part of a team but must be equally comfortable working independently. 

How to Apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Zoe Saynor ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SHES8840124 when applying. Please note that email applications are not accepted.


Medicine (26) Nursing & Health (27) Psychology (31) Sport & Exercise Science (33)

Funding Notes

Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive a contribution of £1,500 per year towards consumables, conference, project or training costs.
Costs for student visa and immigration health surcharge are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.

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