Players and staff from the Cornish Pirates are preparing for life after rugby thanks to a new training scheme that is the first of its kind.

The Education Development Programme, run with Truro and Penwith College, will encourage players and staff to consider their longer-term careers and give them an opportunity to gain professional qualifications alongside playing rugby, in a range of fields from hospitality, engineering and construction to business, management and accounting.

The Pirates were introduced to the new programme at a recent launch day at Mennaye Field, where former Cornish Pirate and Nottingham player Rupert Cooper described his journey from professional player to hospitality professional.

With a career spanning nearly ten years, Rupert retired from rugby at the end of the 2018/19 season. Having founded the Borgia Bull with his wife Sarah at their home near Hayle during Rupert’s playing career, the pair acquired Philleigh Way in Truro on his retirement.

Set just off the River Fal, Philleigh Way is a cookery school offering different dining experiences.

Rupert has been working with the college’s Hospitality Table Cornwall project and prepared lunch as part of the event to give the Pirates a taste of his food.

Rupert said: “It takes a lot of work to make it as a professional rugby player, and once players get there they can have tunnel vision, focusing only on rugby, not considering different career paths.

"Introducing the Education Development Programme is a great way to get players thinking about their next steps and it’s brilliant they have an opportunity to gain qualifications along the way."

Having been introduced to the programmes available the players and staff are now 'mauling' over their options ahead of signing up for their chosen courses and attending college inductions.

Robin James, chief operating officer at the Cornish Pirates, said: “There has been significant interest in a number of courses, most notably starting your own business, coaching and personal training, and hospitality.

"A rugby player’s career is short and it’s vitally important for them to have something to fall back on.”