Nick spent five happy years at Radley as a boy from 1996 to 2001, before pursuing a successful career as a professional rugby player, representing England at A, Under 21 and Under 19 levels. In 2016 he retired from Gloucester Rugby as their most capped player and returned to Radley.

I loved my time here as a boy in H Social. There was so much going on; I was stretched academically, loved all my sports, the societies, trips and dons. The essence of Radley hasn’t changed – the campus environment, boarding life and the fact that, by living onsite, dons share the same experience as the boys.

Then, as it is now, rugby was restricted to the Michaelmas Term so it had its place alongside hockey and cricket for my first few years here. It wasn’t until my 6.1 year that I was encouraged (by Richard Greed, former MiC Rugby) to aim for county trials.

After a long county, regional and national trial process I was selected for England Under-18s and after finishing my A-Levels I joined the squad for a six-week tour to Canada, New Zealand and Australia. I had secured a place to read Spanish and German at Brasenose College, Oxford, so I started there straight after the tour but after my first year I was offered a contract with Gloucester. I played my first 1st XV game in 2003 and stayed there until 2016, 277 games later!

Tell us about returning as a member of staff in 2016.

I returned to Radley after my retirement on a part-time basis as the Rugby Professional. At that point there were at least 20 dons from my time as a boy who were still members of Common Room. I had fond memories of the school and I think I left the school with reasonably fond memories of me, so it wasn’t too daunting!

I was keen to finish my degree and decided to switch to History which I completed with the Open University; an experience I very much enjoyed. As I dipped my toe into classroom teaching, I shared a set with our former Academic Director, Steve Rathbone, before taking on my own independent responsibilities.

What do you enjoy most about your current roles?

They certainly give me a lot of variety! The Master i/c Rugby is responsible not just for coaching, but organisation, administration, catering, fixtures, referees, kit, billing. Alongside that, I have designed the way I want the club to play, to encourage good technique, positive play and strong ambition. I want our players to have a variety of tools in their locker and be relentless at adapting them. It’s key to make sure all the coaches are on-board and understand the philosophy.

James Gaunt (Director of Sport) and I spend a lot of time at prep schools, both identifying good athletes and ensuring Radley features high on their list of future schools. Alongside this, I relish my time in the classroom teaching History.

My role as Tutor is something I knew I wanted to do, should the opportunity arise. When the D Social Tutor role was advertised in December 2022, my wife and I realised the timings would work for our family. I applied for the role, but during that process, it was announced that George May had been appointed Head of Cothill House and the Warden felt that the right fit was for me to take over in H. Obviously, for sentimental reasons it has been lovely to return to H. Plenty of ORs have become Tutors but I think I’m the first to be appointed Tutor of my old Social and I’ve found it’s given me greater empathy. I understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of both the positive and the negative. From my experience, it’s the unwavering presence of the Tutor that is key – to be supportive while also setting clear expectations and principles.

Crucially, I am well supported. I was delighted that the opportunity presented itself for Laney Parker to return to Radley as H Social’s PHM. Laney and I worked together for six years in D Social and we are aligned in our vision for H. I think the support of the H team is a large part of the reason I feel so positive about my role coming into the final term of my first year.

Fundamentally, I really enjoy my time in the boys’ company, through thick and thin.

Has it been what you expected?

I knew I would love the job, but the surprise has been how well the boys in Social have adapted to the changes I’ve brought in. They’ve been evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary and I hope I am firm but kind. Rationalising and explaining the thought process behind decisions shows boys a level of respect. Fundamentally, I really enjoy my time in the boys’ company, through thick and thin.

Can you pick a highlight from your Radley years?

My personal highlight has to be my appointment as Tutor of H Social. I fundamentally believe in this education – I’m a product of it and I recognise its benefits. Looking back to my time here as a boy, I can see the positive impact my Tutor had on my life. To be entrusted to shape the lives of 67 boys every year for the next 12 years is one I don’t take lightly.