Sheffield-born Jason has established himself as one of the leading conditioners in British sport, overseeing the strength and conditioning for Leeds Rugby and the England national rugby league side.
Speaking about receiving the award, Jason said: “Receiving this award means a lot to me. I’ve come down a different route to the academic route; most of my life has been spent working full-time so I like to think that I’ve done my education through the game and learnt from my mistakes and got better from my mistakes so this award means a lot.”
In 2008, Jason was appointed Head Conditioner of the England national side becoming an integral part of the coaching team for two years, and in 2011 he worked with the Rugby League invitational side, the Exiles.
Prior to being a coach, Jason had a successful career as a player, having been the first player ever to sign for Sheffield Eagles. He cites many career highlights: “I’m very honoured that I signed professional straight from school and became the first player to sign for Sheffield. Also, the many trophies that we have won at Leeds, and seeing all the young individuals we have coached from the age of 12 playing for the first team and winning trophies, always gives you a buzz. And having lost three Challenge Cup finals to finally win one and get one over the line was a real highlight.”
In collaboration with Leeds Beckett’s leading sports scientists, Jason and his colleagues at Leeds Rugby are working to identify talent and support the development of junior rugby players in Yorkshire.
Working with Dr Ben Jones, who is both Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Physiology and Head of Academy Athletic Development at Leeds Rugby, Jason developed an initial proposal in 2014 which led to the funding of three PhD students in their research into the ways of using sports science to optimise performance and aid talent identification.
Jason commented: “It’s brilliant the work that we do with Leeds Beckett University. Our youth system is second to none. It’s important that talent comes through from Leeds. It is our responsibility to bring young players through as best we can and give them an opportunity.”
Leeds Beckett University Chancellor, Sir Bob Murray CBE, said: “As Head of Athletic Performance at Leeds Rugby, Jason oversees all conditioning for the first-teams, academy squads and scholarship players.
“His passion for optimising performance in elite sport and working together with sports scientists from Leeds Beckett has made a huge contribution to the sustained success the Leeds Rhinos have enjoyed over the past decade, and it is incredibly fitting that we would recognise his contribution to sport with this Honorary Doctorate.”
When asked what advice he would give graduating students looking to forge a career in sport, Jason said: “Get out there now in the real world and use everything that you have been taught. Pick your sport, enjoy your sport, because if you are not enjoying it there is no point in doing it.”