Simon Berghan is carrying on a recent tradition in Scottish rugby of tight-head props achieving impressive academic qualifications.

Following in the footsteps of Euan Murray the veterinary surgeon, Geoff Cross the doctor and Ed Kalman the physicist, he is on the home straight of completing an MBA from Napier University in Edinburgh.

“It’s going well,” says the Glasgow Warriors front-rower. “I did my undergraduate a few years ago and my tutor asked if I fancied it … and I didn’t, to be honest. Truth is, I thought I was out of my depth. But they offered me a discount on my fees so that swung me and I gave it a bash.

“I’m doing my dissertation at the moment, so I’m nearly finished. It’s on the transition for athletes out of sport into business. There are lots of things athletes go through, identity change and all that stuff. Most guys have a really hard time transitioning out, so I’ve been trying to identify skill gaps and things guys can do to help make that transition a bit more seamless.”

Originally from New Zealand, Berghan qualified as an electrician before making the move to Scotland to join Edinburgh in the summer of 2014. He spent seven seasons in the capital, making 91 appearances for the club and picking up the first of his 31 Scotland caps off the bench against France during the 2017 Six Nations. He qualifies to wear the thistle through a grandfather from Stirling.

Berghan made the move west to join Warriors in the summer of 2021 and managed 13 appearances during his first season at Scotstoun, followed by one start and six bench appearances in the current campaign.

He has not been capped since March 2021 but stresses that all this study is not because he is ready to slide slowly into playing retirement.

“I’m 32 and you’ve got WP Nel still playing at 37,” he points out. “So, could I go on playing for a long, long time? Maybe, maybe not. For me it will be whatever works with my family and my lifestyle.

“I want to put myself into a position where I don’t have to rush into any decisions or have to get a contract or a job as that sounds like a stressful place to be. So, that’s why I’m studying, plus I like to be productive outside of rugby.

“Early on when I wasn’t in the national set-up, I found it [studying for his undergraduate degree] alright as we had long breaks, but once I had international campaigns it became really tricky. Then, six months ago, we had a baby, so I’m pleased I got most of it done before that as I don’t know how guys do it with a family as well.

“I started the MBA in 2019. You take a module on and do it one at a time. During lockdown I managed to bash out a couple. I still don’t know what I want to get into. But this gives me a nice foundation to say that I’ve done this.”

One thing Berghan is sure of is that whatever career path he follows when he does hang up his boots, it will be in Scotland, and he won’t be disappearing back to his native New Zealand.

“Scotland is home for my family now,” he confirms. “We’re not sure where but it will be here. My partner is Italian-American and feels settled here too. It’s a pretty international family.”

In the meantime, he recognises that the hamstring injury picked up by Glasgow and Scotland first-choice tight-head, Zander Fagerson, at the start of December has presented him with a major opportunity to not only establish himself as a more central figure at club level but to also reinvigorate his international career.

“I had a tricky start to the season when I wasn’t getting as much game-time as I might have liked and it took me a bit of time to prove my worth,” he reflects. “But with Zander getting injured – bless him, a great guy – it gave me an opportunity to get some more minutes.

“I’m still finding myself on the bench quite regularly which as a player is quite frustrating but we’re winning games, and in the second half we’re playing well. So, without loving it too much, I’ve got a role there to come on and bring a lot of energy and help change games in the second half so I’m proud of that.

“I’d like to start because I feel like my point of difference is my fitness and work-rate, so I think I can play 60-70 minutes. But it’s hard to see [coach] Franco Smith changing what he’s doing with the bench at the minute so I’ll just contribute to the team in whatever way I can to help us keep winning and playing well. I’m certainly enjoying my rugby again.

“I’m a big believer in doing the right thing at the club and that takes care of itself. If I find myself back in the Six Nations squad it will be because I’m doing well here.”