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Filippo (far left) and PJ (far right) celebrating with the men's football 1st team

Strength and Conditioning (S&C) student placements success

This year the High Performance Unit has continued its tradition of offering S&C work placements to MSc Sport and Health Sciences students, furthering the collaboration between Sports Science and University of Exeter Sport. 

This initiative not only helps to enhance employability for students but also adds value to the S&C delivery for HPP athletes and nominated AU clubs. Following a competitive application and interview process, this year PJ Dundass, Filippo Baldasso and Alex Reader have been working as S&C interns with our performance squads throughout the BUCS season.

Having previously coached elite athletes in the UK and USA, PJ started his S&C placement with the University of Exeter in August for Men’s Rugby pre-season.  Regarding his time spent completing his S&C placement PJ commented “The sports I have worked with have varied from rugby union, rowing, football and netball. What I have enjoyed most is the opportunity to upgrade performance not only physically but also across other areas of everyday life such as mind-set, nutrition and recovery. During term 1 of my placement I had the opportunity to learn from elite coaches across the world and the U.K. attending the UKSCA conference and a workshop delivered by the English Institute of Sport. After Christmas I had the opportunity to learn from two major governing bodies with the England national cricket team in Loughborough and working with the England Rugby team academies across England. The CPD events have been fundamental to my learning in creating a world class training environment.”

Filippo graduated from the University of Verona in Italy and moved to Exeter to study for his MSc in Sport and Health Sciences. Having previously been in post as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Benetton Rugby Treviso in PRO12 following a successful internship within the academy teams Filippo brought a unique insight into international professional sport. Reflecting on his experiences Filippo commented “At the University of Exeter I found a different environment, completely new to me, where coaches, managers and athletes work together to build better results on the pitch and great people off the pitch. Recently as part of my placement I attended the 8th Annual Strength and Conditioning Student Conference at Middlesex University, which was a great way to meet professionals and academics from top clubs and institutions covering topics including recovery, data analysis and player management. Working with the HPP S&C team I’ve had the opportunity to see different ways to approach athletes and interact with them, learning new skills to be emphatic and focused on the situation in front of me. In the future I would like to work with young athletes in rugby and or soccer academies, both as an S&C coach and a teacher, to be part of the development process of future top level players”

With previous experience as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with Southampton High Performance Academy, London Irish RFC Academy and Team Solent Sharks Wheelchair Rugby, Alex has worked both within a University setting and with professional clubs. Regarding his S&C placement with the University of Exeter High Performance Unit, Alex commented “"During my time as a strength and conditioning intern I have had the opportunity to work with great athletes of both genders from a range of sports, including rowing, football and rugby. In this role I've also had the chance to learn from a number of great coaches, who are highly experienced, knowledgeable and willing to help. For me I have learnt the dynamics of running an S&C session for a group as opposed to my previous experiences training athletes one on one.  More specifically I’ve gained the ability to coach exercises using more efficient coaching cues that the athletes can grasp quicker. In the future I plan to build upon my own fitness company and do some work as a freelance S&C coach, once obtaining my UKSCA (hopefully during summer 2017). The High Performance set up as a whole is great and I would encourage anyone to jump at the chance of getting some invaluable experience."

We are currently advertising for MSc Sport and Health Sciences students to undertake S&C placement students with Men's Rugby and our High Performance squads in 2017-2018. For further information including a job description and details on how to apply please see the below link. If you have any further questions please contact

Date: 30 June 2017