Sport and exercise science student playing role at Rugby World Cup thanks to studies



Calum Rettie
Calum Rettie

When Calum Rettie joined Heriot-Watt University last summer, he never imagined it would lead him to being part of Scotland’s preparations for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France.

But that is what has happened to the 18-year-old who is carrying out a studentship with Scottish Rugby as part of his studies for a BSc (Hons) in Sport and Exercise Science.

Calum admits it’s a surreal experience working alongside Scotland’s best rugby players and credits the unique learning opportunities offered by the University in getting his career off to the best possible start.

Working within professional environments allows them to test and refine their academic skills, fostering a seamless transition from education to the professional arena.

Dr Mark Ross

A keen follower of Edinburgh Rugby, Calum has spent around the last year working as a performance analyst, using data to interpret each player’s contribution to a match and training sessions. By using in-depth analysis techniques developed through his studies, he provides data-driven evidence to the coaching staff.   

These, often subtle, improvements can go unnoticed by fans but collectively, they can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Calum said: “It’s been a dream come true as I want to work in this area when I leave university.

“Working as a performance analyst, I film all the training sessions with the squad then with the aid of our software, break it down into individual segments, making it a lot easier for the coaches to identify any issues or areas for improvement.

“My studies have really helped with this and I’m finding that by working in the ‘real world’ it has opened my eyes up to my course and given me a better understanding of how the team works.

“I also have support from my tutors, if I ever need it which is reassuring.”

The Sport and Exercise Science programme equips students with a comprehensive understanding of the physiological, biomechanical, and psychological factors that influence athletic performance. It combines cutting-edge teaching with world-leading sports performance facilities at Oriam, Scotland’s National Sports Performance Centre, located at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh campus.

Calum continues: “Working with the Scotland team is great. It sounds obvious but they are just normal people but they have been great with me. I sometimes have to pinch myself when I see them on the field.”

The Scotland men’s rugby team kicked off their World Cup adventure at the weekend with a defeat against defending champions, South Africa.  Calum hasn’t made the trip to France but is watching with interest from his home in Haddington, East Lothian.

Calum is one of the first students to have enrolled onto the Sports and Exercise Science course when it launched last year. The programme has gone on to be a huge success for students with this year’s cohort at capacity.

Dr Mark Ross, Associate Professor in Exercise Physiology spoke about the exciting career opportunities open to students who choose Heriot-Watt. He said: “We take immense pride in offering our sport and exercise students real-world positions that provide invaluable hands-on experience.

“These opportunities offer a unique insight for our students and a chance for them to apply the knowledge they’ve gained in the classroom, the lab, and the field.

“Working within professional environments allows them to test and refine their academic skills, fostering a seamless transition from education to the professional arena. Our commitment to these practical, real-world openings is reflective of our dedication to produce well-rounded graduates who are not only equipped with knowledge but also the expertise needed to excel in the dynamic field of sport and exercise science.”

For more information on the Sport and Exercise Science course visit the Heriot-Watt website. 


Craig Philip

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Communications officer