Three Hawke's Bay's Magpies have more in common than working out at the gym or scrumming down on a rugby field.
Hooker Jorian Tangaere and prop Jason Long, are about to graduate while Jarvy Aoake, who also plays prop, expects to complete his degree this year.
Not only do the trio have EIT study in common, they also attended the same Bachelor of Recreation and Sport classes.
Of Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Porou descent, Tangaere gained his first degree, a Bachelor of Arts (Maori), in 2013. Achieving that milestone in just half the usual time, he was honoured with a He Maimai Aroha Award for excellence and commitment to te reo Maori in his final year at EIT's Te ranga Waka.
The seasoned graduate heard about the opportunity to gain a sports scholarship to study at EIT while playing club/rep rugby in 2013.
He joined the Hawke's Bay Rugby Academy in 2014 during his second year of Recreation and Sport studies. Tangaere wanted to stay in Hawke's Bay, so he says "it's been good to learn te reo here, and to learn more about Ngati Kahungunu was a bonus".
His post-rugby playing plan is to teach PE and Maori and also to travel.
Long will be capped this week with two EIT degrees - a Bachelor of Business Studies as well as the Bachelor of Recreation and Sport.
"It was good to be able to study both concurrently," he says, "to have that variety. It wasn't just learning about sport or business."
Recently employed by the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union, he finds he's able to draw on what he learned on both degree programmes in combining the role of clubs and schools officer with that of rugby development officer.
"I initially planned to study just the Bachelor of Recreation and Sport but I wanted to give myself more options when I finished at EIT, which is why I studied the Bachelor of Business Studies as well."
Long also enjoys speedway and is ranked second in New Zealand.
Aoake has combined tertiary study and work, although 2013 was a fulltime study year at EIT. Now he's keen to nail the final two courses to complete his degree.
Like Long, he finds his learning benefits him in his role as rugby development officer for the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union, a position he's had since before he started playing for the Magpies.
"I got the job out of an industry co-operative practicum," he says of a compulsory degree course. "I've found it hard, wanting to work, play rugby and study. I love my job but it has meant that it's taking me longer to finish my degree."
Aoake, whose whakapapa is Ngati Raukawa, has always wanted to work in the sports sector.
EIT study, he says, has helped him achieve just that. He is looking forward to celebrating graduation next year.