Captain of the Maynooth University rugby team, an elite athlete and a partime bartender! You could say that law and business student Ben Doyle has a pretty hectic life. Now in his final year of college I sat with Ben to ask how he manages to balance it all? What advice would he give to incoming rugby scholars and what he what are his hopes and dreams as he comes to the end of his scholarship?
Rugby was always the main topic of conversation in the Doyle household. From an early age Ben was watching his brother train under his Dad at U7s and having matches playing in the background on the TV, it’s probably no wonder that he started playing rugby when he was just five!
Given his early introduction to rugby, he grew to love the game. Therefore it was no surprise when in May 2014, Ben got the news that he had received a rugby scholarship at Maynooth University. However being a student on a rugby scholarship is not easy, as Ben says it is “pretty tough going”. He told me every week scholars are expected to attend 3-4 gym sessions, not including recovery sessions which they must do in their own time. Another requirement is attendance at 2-3 pitch sessions (depending on the week) as well as a game on Sunday. As if all this was not challenging enough, Ben also manages to work part time in a bar during the week.
Juggling late nights in the bar, early morning gym sessions and a gruelling programme of training as well as keeping on top of college work, it is safe to say that the life of a rugby sports scholar is not an easy one. Ben said it can be hard to balance it all and a social life inside and outside of college was one of the sacrifices that he had to make for quite some time. However, he said, that over the past two years and especially now in his final year, he has learned how to balance things more skilfully by swapping a few hours of bartending for a few hours of studying. However, for Ben, the benefits of playing a sport he loves at such a high level outweigh the sacrifices that he sometimes has to make.
As for the social side of things and although nights out aren’t always an option for him, he says that the scholarship has not “impacted his friendships” and through the program he has made lifelong friends. So the real question is what does he hope to achieve from the scholarship and why would he encourage others to take the same path?
From the scholarship Ben hopes to constantly progress as an athlete. He says that “the attention to detail in the program is brilliant” and he hopes to make rugby a part of his life in a possible future career.
For young athletes thinking about applying for the scholarship next year his advice is simple;
“ You’d really have to love the game, it involves a lot of dedication but the scholarship gives you the tools to develop your game”.