Interview with Clare Harpley | UNE Sports Academy

We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Clare Harpley, a member of the UNE Sports Academy and a standout Rugby 7’s player. Clare’s story is one of dedication and balance, as she expertly juggles the demands of her athletic pursuits with her academic commitments.

Currently in her final trimester at UNE, Clare is working towards not one but two degrees—a dual Bachelor of Agriculture and Business. Read on for Clare’s insights into her journey, her passion for rugby, and the strategies she employs to succeed both on and off the field.

What are you currently studying at UNE and where are you from?

I am in my fourth year and currently undertaking my final trimester of studying the duel degree of  Bachelor of Agriculture and Bachelor of Business. I am finishing the last part from home which is in Coolac, NSW.

What is your main sport, how long have you been involved, and what initially attracted you to it?

Rugby is my main sport. Since I was around 14-15 years old I played Viva sevens which is touch rugby and then I got selected for Brumbies Schoolgirls when I was around 16/17 which is when I played my first game of 15’s. From here, various opportunities and pathways opened up to me. I grew up always watching the boys, as I would go along and watch my brother play rugby union, and the contact side always interested me. Dad coached a lot of my club touch rugby for the Tumut Bullants, as well as the boys.

Could you describe your typical training routine? What does a typical day or week of training look like for you?

My typical training routine involves, the gym in Cootamundra two to three times a week in the early mornings, rugby training in Wagga twice a week at Wagga Agricultural College, a long run on the farm and club rugby on Saturday.

How do you balance your academic responsibilities with your athletic commitments?

It’s a real balance, it’s been great going back up to Armidale a few times this trimester to catch up with everyone. I usually exercise most mornings and then put my head down in the books. I usually break it up by doing odd jobs such as moving a mob of sheep or training my dogs. I’ve loved doing the last part of my degree from home, the balance has been great.

Do you have any major competitions coming up in 2024?

I have recently been selected in the Australian University Rugby 7s team and we’ll be competing at the World University Championships in France from the 10-12th of June.

How do you prepare yourself mentally and physically before a competition?

Good sleep/ well rested, eat well, hydrate, stretch, music.

Who are some of your biggest supporters or mentors in your athletic journey, and how have they helped you?

My family, especially my parents have been a massive support to me with the distance of my sport out in the country. They’ve always been very encouraging and I have learnt a lot from my dad and brother. Sam Hutton, has been amazing and he has been my online coach setting up my distance gym and speed sessions, we have lots of regular check ins. A lot of my friends have always motivated me and supported me and I am very grateful for that.

What are your long-term goals as a student-athlete, both in your sport and academically?

It has always been a dream of mine to wear the green and gold and represent my country in rugby. I finish my final exams a couple days before we fly out, so it’s a very exciting time. The world is my oyster, I look forward to this trip and aim to travel more later in the year.

For more information about the UNE Sports Academy, visit this page.

Special thanks to Catherine Stephen Photography for the images in this article.