A Saracens rugby star has graduated from Warwick Business School after studying for an MBA at its London centre at The Shard.

England international rugby union player Maro Itoje has graduated with a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Warwick Business School, one of Europe’s top-ranked institutions.

The 29-year-old Saracens star is one of a growing number of Premiership rugby players who have completed MBA programs, joining Wales international Will Rowlands and former South Africa forward Dewalt Potgieter.

The Premiership Rugby club play home games at the StoneX Stadium in Hendon.

Itoje completed the School’s Global Online MBA programme, which he chose specifically to enhance his business skills for his charitable work off the rugby pitch.

Itoje said: "I’m delighted to be graduating and proud to have earned my MBA.

"I hope to put it to good use across all my business and philanthropic projects in future."

He noted the programme's flexibility in accommodating his busy rugby career, allowing study in different countries and time zones.

He added that meeting his tutor group remained the highlight of his academic journey: "It was brilliant to meet and work with some wonderful people from all over the world that I’m still good friends with today."

During his MBA studies, Itoje founded the Pearl Fund, an initiative geared towards helping underprivileged children in Nigeria escape poverty through education. The rugby star has close family ties to Nigeria, and his charity builds upon his previous contributions in the country.

He said: "These kids are either fatherless, orphaned, or living in abject poverty and they really need the help.

"The Pearl Fund is looking to provide them with lifelong support, from the start of primary school all the way through to the end of secondary school or university, so it’s a deep approach."

The concept for the initiative began during his studies and was fully launched last summer.

He added: "What I learned on my course was valuable in terms of understanding the financing and economics of a charity like this, as well as putting teams in place to execute the delivery of the programme."