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Owls' preparation nearly set; Leebron signs new study-abroad agreement

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The Owls wrapped up their final practice at David Phillips Sports Complex on the campus of the University of New South Wales Friday. On Saturday the team will hold a walkthrough at Sunday's game site, Allianz Stadium.


When speaking to reporters at practice today, head football coach David Bailiff was asked about Hurricane Harvey churning toward the Texas coast.


"We had the same thing in 2008 (the team was in Nashville when Hurricane Ike was approaching)," Bailiff said. "You're honest with the players. You're transparent with them. You let them know the sequence of events from our past experience and help them deal with it.


"I'm proud that our governor of Texas declared a state of emergency early, and the city of Houston has done an incredible job of preparing for these things and getting information out to the public months ahead of time."


Bailiff was then asked about facing Stanford again after recently ending the 2016 season against them.


170825_Practice4_MOU 111 400.jpg"Look, we're a different team," he said. "A lot of guys that didn't play in it last year are going to play against Stanford this year. I'm excited about opening against a team like Stanford -- a premier football team. We have to go out there and be the best football team we can be." 


At about the same time practice was wrapping up, Rice University President David Leebron and University Representative Y. Ping Sun arrived in Sydney Friday to join the Owls just days ahead of Rice kicking off the football season against Stanford in the Sydney Cup.


The president's first official event in town was a visit to the University of Sydney, where he was greeted by university officials in front of the school's iconic clock tower. While pleasantries were being made, Rice's fight song was being masterfully played in the clock tower building on the university's carillon, one of only two of the instruments in the country.


170825_Practice4_MOU 401 400.jpgLike the football team had done days before he arrived, Leebron started his visit with a tour of campus; however, the campus looked a bit different today. USyd, as they like to call it, was preparing for their annual "Open Day," when 30,000 prospective students and families descend on the school to tour and obtain admissions information.


 After the 30-minute walking tour, Leebron was joined by Rice Athletics Director Joe Karlgaard, head football coach David Bailiff and five Owls football players as he met with Tyrone Carlin, deputy vice chancellor (registrar) and professor of financial reporting and regulation at USyd, and signed a new study-abroad agreement to make it possible for more Rice students to go #OwlsDownUnder.


The first-of-its-kind program for Rice with an Australian university will provide Rice students the option to study abroad in Australia during the academic year or the summer.

"Studying abroad enriches a student's learning and college experience, but our students sometimes find it challenging to be away from campus during the fall or spring semester," Leebron said. "This opportunity to study at the University of Sydney also gives credit for summer studies and encourages students to explore and discover the countries and cultures they are learning about. Living in a foreign country provides invaluable educational and life experiences."

Rice will soon set up a process for students to apply to the program, which will begin in 2018.

The agreement will also allow University of Sydney students to travel, study and live on campus at Rice, where they can interact with Rice students, faculty and administrators. The agreement between the schools is for a minimum of five years and can be renewed for future years.

The agreement will encourage Rice's student-athletes to participate in overseas learning experiences.

"Due to the demand of a student-athlete's time for training, practice, competition and schoolwork, it is difficult for them to participate in a traditional study-abroad program during the academic year," Karlgaard said. "I'm grateful our student-athletes can now apply for the chance to study abroad."

"In this interconnected world, the jobs of the future will require students to have international experience -- that is why we are more than doubling the number of students who have overseas experience as part of their degree," Carlin said. "The University of Sydney will have the largest student-mobility program of any other university in Australia."

"International experience nurtures curiosity, challenges beliefs and builds relationships, and through the knowledge they exchange, these students will have the global perspective necessary to solve the challenges facing our world today."

Founded in 1850, the University of Sydney is Australia's oldest university and is regarded as one of the world's leading universities. It was recently ranked as the world's 26th-most-reputable university.

After the signing, the group enjoyed tea and snacks before taking group photos near the university's quadrangle.

Leebron is visiting Australia at the invitation of the Australian government. Prior to signing the agreement, Leebron met with the Australian deputy secretary for higher education, research and international collaboration; the CEO of Austrade; the general manager for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; representatives from the Australian Research Council; representatives from the Group of 8, the leading research universities in Australia; and the CEO of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's foremost federal government agency for scientific research.

Leebron and Sun will attend the second annual Sydney Cup, where the Rice Owls will play Stanford at Allianz Stadium for their 2017 football season opener at noon Aug. 27 (9 p.m. CDT Aug. 26 in the United States). The game will be televised nationally in the United States on ESPN.

The Owls football team had the evening off to rest up before they gear up for final practices Saturday. Some of the players headed to Bondi Beach, while others walked downtown near the team's hotel and the city's Hyde Park.

A new Sammy was unveiled today. Check out the video.

An important note for Owls fans who are with us here in Sydney: Please join us Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m. at the rooftop bar at InterContinental Sydney, an upscale hotel minutes from the Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House. The hotel is located at 117 Macquarie St. We hope to see you there!

Also, join us for the Sydney Cup pregame and postgame festivities. Tickets to these events are available here.

View more photos from the Owls' fourth day in Sydney by using the arrows below in the Flickr gallery.

Owls' preparation nearly set; Leebron signs new study-abroad agreement

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