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Scotland rugby star tackles agriculture course

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Scotland rugby star tackles agriculture course

RUGBY international Alex Dunbar has returned to study at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) more than a decade after completing an HNC in agriculture.

The 30-year-old inside centre, who is originally from Johnstonebridge, but currently lives in Brive-la-Gaillarde in France, will complete an HND in agriculture by distance learning.

After graduating from the Scottish Agricultural College – now SRUC – at Auchincruive in Ayrshire, Alex made his Glasgow Warriors debut in 2009 before winning his first cap for Scotland in South Africa in 2013.

He spent some time on loan at Newcastle before signing a one-year contract with CA Brive in France in June last year.

However, he was released after the French season was abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic and is hoping to eventually move into farm management.

Alex, who has just had a baby girl with his partner Lois McCredie, said: “I’m from a dairy, sheep and beef farm near Lockerbie and was always interested in agriculture growing up.

“I left school at 16 and did the NC and HNC courses at Auchincruive before going on to play professional rugby with the Glasgow Warriors, Scotland, Newcastle Falcons and then Brive.

“I chose to come back and study the HND course as I would like to achieve more knowledge in the industry to hopefully one day allow me to move into farm management.”

He is combining his studies with helping to raise his daughter Elsie and with training.

“I didn’t have many challenges with studying the first time round, but it will be very different this time with learning online and not having face-to-face contact with lecturers, as well as the arrival of our first child and fitting in training as well,” he said.

“However, I always found the lecturers very approachable and they were always happy to help with any concerns or problems I had, so I am hoping it will be the same this time.”

Dr Jan Connell, academic liaison manager and programme leader for agriculture in the South and West Faculty, said: “If there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 situation, it is the move to the blended learning platform of education and not relying on campus attendance.

“Alex has benefited greatly as he can engage in his studies at times to suit his lifestyle just now.

“Many students are finding the blended learning approach is much more flexible and it allows them to integrate work and caring responsibilities at a distance from a campus without much difficulty.”

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