Working with the RPA to Connect Players to Business Leaders

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We recently brought together business leaders and Falcons rugby players engaged in The Rugby Players’ Association (The RPA) Player Development Programme, for an inspiring and motivating evening with two former British and Irish Lions stars.

Great stories from ex-England stars

Dean Richards and Peter Winterbottom shared stories with invited guests about their careers and their days playing for England, as well as their individual and team’s attitude and determination to succeed on and off the pitch. They also described what it’s like for players in the modern game and the sacrifices they make to follow their dreams instead of starting careers in industry.

Richards played 48 times for England and six times for the British & Irish Lions before moving into coaching after his playing career ended.  He joined Newcastle Falcons as Director of Rugby in the summer of 2012, leading the side through an unbeaten run of 21 Championship games to date to place them in prime position for the forthcoming play-offs and a potential return to the Aviva Premiership.

Peter Winterbottom, known for his hard tackling and courage on the field, was England’s most capped open-side with 58 caps, until being overtaken by Neil Back in 2003.

Preparing for life after rugby

Their presentation with business leaders covered leadership, motivation and team work on and off the field, and how to prepare players for life after rugby. The two speakers have followed different career paths since their playing days ended. While Dean stayed within rugby, Peter has carved out a career in finance, working as a broker.

The event was organised by Muckle LLP after the success last year of their evening with Stuart Lancaster, the Head Coach for England Rugby.  This latest event was supported by The RPA who provided the guest speakers and arranged for 18 players from the Newcastle Falcons squad to attend.  Whilst the event was inspiring for Muckle’s guests, it was also aimed at helping the Falcons’ players broaden their business networks which can help them pursue careers in business when their playing days are over.

Networking events invaluable to players

Newcastle Falcons’ player Jonny Golding, who this week announced that he would be retiring from professional rugby at the end of the season, said: “Networking events like this organised by The RPA and Muckle LLP are really important to the players and encourage even the younger guys to start thinking about life after rugby. It’s a massive plus for us to get a link to successful business people who also enjoy watching rugby and it’s important to make use of those links and build contacts at evenings like this.

“The business people we are speaking to here are experts in their field so it’s a great opportunity to get advice from people who do this every day and the players really appreciate being able to pick their brains. When I retire I’m looking forward to also testing myself mentally after all the physical challenges of rugby, so I’m really excited about opportunities which might be out there in the business world. I’ll be trying to absorb as much new information as possible from the experts.”

Jonathan Combe, Partner and Head of Muckle LLP’s Real Estate Group, a former rugby player himself who coaches the U14s at Percy Park, Tynemouth, conducted a question and answer session with the two rugby stars.

He said: “The event was thought provoking and very entertaining for our guests from the world of business and for the Falcons players. It was enlightening hearing from Peter and Dean who talked openly about their rugby careers, the decisions they have made and the different paths their careers have taken.

“The event also provided the Falcons players with an opportunity to make some excellent contacts in the business world and to spend time learning about different careers that interest them.”

Smooth transition to life after rugby

RPA Player Development Manager, Mandy Thompson, said: “At the RPA, through our Player Development Programme, we aim to make a player’s transition to life after rugby as smooth as possible. It is important to help equip them during their playing career with the skills and connections they will need when they are forced to retire.

“An evening such as this is invaluable in giving players an opportunity to mix in a business environment and develop contacts, while also investigating various career paths which will be open to them after rugby. It enables them to understand more about the real world outside of rugby, and also to appreciate they have transferable skills which are highly sought after in business.’’

For more information, help or advice please contact Jonathan Combe on 0191 211 7925.