Michael Leitch, (Chiefs NZ; Sunwolves, Japan)
I firmly believe that studying abroad helps cultivate a strong character. While abroad, in addition to all the enjoyable situations, at times you will be uncomfortable – you will find yourself in unfamiliar situations, outside your comfort zone. As a result, you must learn to adapt and cope with your surroundings. Not only do you learn to survive away from home, but more importantly, you learn how to get yourself through tough times. With the world becoming so much more competitive, such resilience is vital for your future – the ability to adapt to the abnormal, understanding different cultures, how to be flexible, how to communicate and how to be independent – things that cannot be seen on certificates or bought. They are gained from experience, so time out of your comfort zone in an appropriate environment is the key. These skills will help you do well in life.
The International Rugby Programme is a great way to for a young person to gain experiences that build solid life skills. The St. Bede’s College International Rugby Programme is second to none, both in terms of content and player support, and Christchurch has one of the most competitive schoolboy competitions in NZ. St. Bede’s College is where I played my high school rugby in New Zealand and where, by meeting players in the early years of the IRP, I developed my interest in Japan. It is where the early stages of my rugby career took off. I wish all those involved in the St. Bede’s College International Rugby Programme well and encourage young rugby players to challenge themselves on the same fields that I played on 15 or more years ago.