Education and Training

Former international coach to help students enter top-level sports careers

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 17 August 2020 7:58

After a successful career in the upper echelons of professional rugby a specialist coach has now turned his attention to Gloucestershire students. 

After a decade and a half it marks a full-circle journey for Lee Douglas, who is back at Hartpury University as head of strength and conditioning at Hartpury University, 

After graduating from the Hartpury (BSc Sports Coaching) in 2005, his coaching career got under way with an internship the following summer when he went to work with academy rugby players at nearby Worcester Warriors. 

By the end of that summer, the Warriors had seen enough to make his employment permanent and he went on to spend five rewarding years at Worcester, gradually moving up from the academy to working with the club’s senior squad.

He then had a spell with Edinburgh Rugby in Scotland before securing his first Head of Department role with Bristol, where he was to stay for a further three years. 

“My next role was with the England Women’s 7s squad, which was at the time that they first became fully professional,” said Lee. 

“In my time with them we managed to secure qualification for the Rio Olympics, as a big part of Team GB, so that was pretty cool. 

“Then I took the opportunity to move to Canada for three and half years, where I worked with the national Men’s 7s squad, before finding myself back here at Hartpury. 

“Now I’m responsible for overseeing strength and conditioning (S&C) within all of our sports academies. That includes 10 academies across both the college and the university. 

“I’ve still got my own specialisation in rugby, so I keep a day-to-day personal involvement with our Championship team, Hartpury University RFC. 

“I’m also responsible for ensuring that we’ve got the proper alignment within our S&C coaching across all of our rugby teams and age grades. I also provide support to the other academies as well. 

“On top of that, I also manage the Athlete Performance Academy, which encompasses a number of sports that fall outside of the established high-performance groups. 

Typically these are individual sports and we’ve a big range including martial arts, swimming, rock climbing, track, cycling, badminton and fencing.  We’ve also got a young cricketer who plays for Gloucestershire. 

“It’s an academy that we really want to grow, but we absolutely have to ensure it’s truly beneficial for the athletes involved. We actually don’t coach the individual sports but rather provide a support service to the athletes. 

“This means we give them strength and conditioning support, physiotherapy, nutrition guidance, sports psychology and lifestyle management. 

“At the same time – as with all academy athletes – we have to ensure that they’re staying on top of their academic workload, through our status as a Talented Athlete Centre through the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS). 

“Some of these athletes are travelling internationally for competition and training, so we have a responsibility to make sure that they don’t fall behind in other areas.” 

Mr Douglas, who also has an MSc in Physiology, is passionate about enabling students to maximise their opportunities to excel within Hartpury’s extensive range of world-class sports facilities. 

Hartpury’s new £8.8 million Sports Academy includes a biomechanics laboratory, a rehabilitation suite featuring an anti-gravity treadmill, and a human performance laboratory with an altitude chamber, and a sports hall.