The Harsh Reality of Retirement

Now I am going to be brutally honest when I first started getting into rugby it was all about the youngsters, the showmen and of course the delectable bodies of said athletes. Then came the passion for the community, the driving force behind the game and what it really meant to all involved whether it be a fan, player, coach or the neutral that tags along to any game because they love the sport. But recently my head has been turned to what happens to the professionals once their playing careers are over.

For some it is something they can work up to, re skill and make a smooth transition into city life. For others the news is much less expected and therefore much harder to prepare for. Imagine if you will the stark reality that sometimes you are just no longer of any actual value to the organisation that pays you, and so like in many other businesses cuts are made. However in this instance it’s much harder to find a similar role where you might thrive. If rugby is all you have been doing since you left school and whether due to age or injury it is something that you can no longer do well, you may find your self in a position where there are very few options.

The more charismatic among the players may find an easy transition into the world of commentating, writing, internal club affairs or taking a step over the other side of the touch-line and becoming an agent. The more technically astute will usually become coaches and pass on their expertise. However what if you haven’t got these opportunities because lets face facts there are a lot more rugby players out there than there are Ben Kays and Austin Healeys. The other working life in business can be a very daunting place post playing career for those who have never done anything of its nature. The point in question was really first highlighted to me by Duncan Bell. He was so candid about his sudden retirement and the harsh realities of starting up his own business. The terrifying prospect that it may not all be ok in the end.

The harsh nature of this business often means there isn’t much support out there for these guys either. Of course there are the obvious places to go for advice your club, The RPA etc. But really where is the “hands on” advice and actual time that these players need hiding?

 I recently attended an event which was put on by an organisation called RUINN which is headed up by ex Saracen Hugh Vyvyan. It was a networking event that allowed city individuals in London to mix with some recently retired rugby players and see if there was anything they could do that would be mutually beneficial for each other. In attendance was Ben Woods who recently found himself out in the cold after a long-term wrist injury had ruled him out of professional sport. Having known Ben through my work at Tigers it was great to see him in a completely different environment. The networking event put him in touch with several lawyers (Ben is currently studying for his Law conversion GDL) and will fingers crossed allow him to foster relationships and work experience to make the next few years a lot easier.

My issue comes is for the boys who aren’t Cambridge graduates and haven’t got the foggiest idea what they want to do post playing career. I know there is a lot of support in clubs to help players realise what they want to do when they have finished playing but in my mind it is still nowhere near enough. Rugby clubs typically harbour great working relationships with a variety of sizes of businesses. I feel it is imperative that a player is rounded into more than a machine on the pitch but a person that can swiftly move into other areas of work when their time with the club is finished. That support network needs to be there at a very minimum so the skills needed can be developed over years as opposed to over a few weeks/months when a player gets thrown in at the deep end.

Furthermore more players need to be encouraged by their agents and clubs alike to get involved in this sort of networking events whether it is RUINN or The Rugby Business Network or The RPA. It needs to be considered valuable to the club which at a business only level it isn’t. It means players taking a few hours here and there to aid their own personal development and unless this translates into points during the game it isn’t going to draw in more fans and therefore more money. However niceties aside unless the clubs are going to pay the big bucks to set up a player for life, the players need to be set up for post playing life. I would go as far to argue that an agent should be an agent for the player’s life not just their most valuable time when they are on the field. Often by the time a player actually sees the value in these events it’s too late and they are searching for work with a barely there CV.

Arguably however it is also down to us as fans and friends. Keep a look out for those who are retiring or coming up to retirement and think if it could in any way add value to your organisation if they were to even just gain some experience with you. Rugby life is typically a well-connected industry and I think if we all looked at our companies or friends’ companies there would be a slot there that could offer those players the start to their non playing lives they need. You may think this sounds like a barbaric idea as players must have these sorts of offer thrown at them routinely but believe me they really don’t. Or even if this isn’t possible lets look at where we are spending our money. At The Stoop instead of heading for one of the chain stands head for Ollie Kohn’s Jolly Hog and Sausage. When looking at mortgage brokers go to Duncan Bell. Refer your friends to them lets help build their empire from the inside. Support the charities that supports them and eventually I hope we will see fewer players facing the harsh truth that often awaits them come retirement.

Stay tuned for news of upcoming events that you can attend!

Potential trouble for Newcastle as trio are cited..

A Rugby Football Union Disciplinary Hearing will be held at the Durham Radisson Blu Hotel on Monday, March 19, 2012 to consider the following cases:

 1. The citing by the Match Citing Officer of James Hall (Newcastle Falcons) for kicking an opponent, contrary to Law 10(4)(c), in the game against Harlequins at Kingston Park on March 2, 2012.

 2. The citing by the Match Citing Officer of Tai Tu’ifua (Newcastle Falcons) for a dangerous tackle, contrary to Law 10(4)(e), in the game against Harlequins at Kingston Park on March 2, 2012.

3. The citing by the Match Citing Officer of Rob Vickers (Newcastle Falcons) for striking, contrary to Law 10(4)(a), in the game against Harlequins at Kingston Park on March 2, 2012.

The Panel will be chaired by Antony Davies.

Transfer Update

Here is a quick round-up of whats been going on transfer wise this week The Photos are themed this week rather obviously can you spot the connection?

Bath

New Signings: Rob Webber, Dominic Day,

Contract Extensions: Ross Batty, Chris Cook

Exeter Rugby

New Signings:

Contract Extensions: Tom Hays, Simon Alcott, Jason Shoemark, Hoani Tui

 

Gloucester Rugby

New Signings: Billy Twelvetrees, Huia Edmonds, Ben Morgan

Contract Extensions: Rupert Harden, Peter Buxton, Freddie Burns, Akapusi Qera

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Transfer News

So who are the brave players taking the plunge and making the move so far this season and who are certainly staying put?

Bath

New Signings: Rob Webber, Dominic Day,

Contract Extensions: Ross Batty, Chris Cook

Exeter Rugby

Contract Extensions: Tom Hays, Simon Alcott, Jason Shoemark, Hoani Tui

Gloucester Rugby

New Signings: Billy Twelvetrees, Huia Edwards,

Contract Extensions: Rupert Harden, Peter Buxton, Freddie Burns, Akapusi Qera,

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England make four changes…

ENGLAND today made four personnel changes to their starting line-up for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Wales at Twickenham Stadium.

Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Ben Morgan (Scarlets) and Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers) will all start their first Tests at the home of English rugby after coming off the bench against Scotland and Italy.

In addition, Owen Farrell will move to No 10 in place of Charlie Hodgson, who has not recovered from an injury to his left index finger, with Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) coming in to the centre.

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) and Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers) make their first appearances of the campaign on the bench.

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Looking Back…. Rob Vickerman

This interview with Rob Vickerman was carried out briefly before he announced leaving Newcastle Falcons to join the England Sevens team full-time. Now we are approaching the halfway point of the IRB Sevens season The Rugby Diary thought it was a great time to revisit it.

A winner in every way......

Joining the core squad of Ben Ryan’s tenacious pack means that Vickerman will no longer be eligible to play at club level for this season at least.

However, it does mean that Rob’s Olympic ambitions may become a reality.

Seeing this opportunity as a perfect time for an interview, and a chance for Rob to get some last ditch revenge before taking off for his new sevens career, we caught up with Rob to get the real story of the switch.

Quick fire questions

Tori Chipp [TC]: Books or films?

 Rob Vickerman [RV]: Films about books, so I can pretend I’ve read it!

[TC]: Surf or ski?

 [RV]: Surf, bro. (Thanks Rob more people will think im a man now!)

 [TC]: Night in or night out?

[RV]: Known as the Olympic Flame – never go out.

[TC]: North or South?

[RV]: T’North.

[TC]: Blonde or brunette?

[RV]: Blonde.

[TC]: Cook or be cooked for?

[RV]: Cooked for every night by a working mother of three – oh no wait, that’s Tom Catterick!

[TC]: Boxers or briefs?

[RV]: Calvin Klein all the way.

 

The interview

[TC]: Now, the time to spill the beans on your previous teammates….Who has the best and worst banter at the Falcons? And you can’t give yourself the best award before you even try it!

 [RV]: I always enjoy a Matt Thompson ‘topper’ story. If you’ve got a black cat, he’s got a panther. Failing that, Daz Fearn has got good chat, and a shit tat. Tim Swinson is improving with some good lines – just about 20 minutes late.

[TC]: Putting on your Trinny and Susannah style cap, who were the best and worst dressed?

[RV]: It’s fair to say Tom Catterick encapsulates the best of both. I bet Marty McFly, in 1985, didn’t think he’d be so on trend in 2011. Unfortunately, Tom Catterick styles himself on Cher Lloyd!

[TC]: Some may say style comes with ease, others really, really have to try. Who was the biggest tart in the Falcons team? We have all seen Geordie Shore, but someone has to stand out?

[RV]: Chris Pilgrim without a doubt. Some boys had to be restrained when he dressed up as a bird at the end of season do.

[TC]: Not sure this is an award that many would admit to wanting, but who was the biggest LAD at Falcons?

 [RV]: Daz ‘Ultimate Lad’ Fearn.

[TC]: Who is the best roommate we know, forwards are usually the worst?

[RV]: It’s going to have to be Tim Swinson – he even brings his Butler.

[TC]: Who goes craziest on the town, usually ending up in trouble? We all know at least one friend who can do the impossible on a night out?

[RV]: Luke Eves is pretty loose. Especially if his dad isn’t out.

[TC]: Can you tell us the funniest story from a team social that you know about happening at Falcons?

[RV]: On our end of season do last year we were all in teams of 5. One of the rules was there must be a ‘team steal.’ This usually means that someone in the team ‘borrows’ an ashtray or perhaps a glass from a bar. (Obviously it will be replaced).

Over the years some teams have done well, capturing a pub sign, brought along a local perhaps, but this year the records were re-written. As we sat in our last pub we had forgotten to acquire any item, so when we all looked around the room we all saw the same thing as our heads then turned back. The Piano! We sat for 15 minutes coming up with a plan, how to distract the staff, the exit route and then how to get it to the next pub. Needless to say, the plan was executed perfectly, until the landlord at the next pub had a phone in his hand saying it was the owner of the last pub, who had called the police. The piano found its way back pretty quickly.

 

[TC]: Love it, shame you couldn’t get a local in the piano; that would have been genius! Now this is a really important question and all the lads probably think they are going to win it, but who is the biggest ladies man at Falcons?

[RV]: Well, judging by our Gypsy Wedding outfits at the fancy dress, I’d have to say Chris Pilgrim was the biggest lady man.

[TC]: There have been a few interviews recently with your old Falcon’s boys. Would you like to hand out any extra awards to your teammates?

[RV]: Of course:

Media whore: Chris Pilgrim

Biggest rater: Luke Fielden

 [TC]: Now for some questions about yourself… I hear you are known in some circles as the “nause of the North.” Can you explain this and do you have any other nicknames?

[RV]: Owing to my nausiing nature, and name, I tend to be affectionately known as Vickernause. It’s a fair shout.

[TC]: You’ve had some great times with the England Sevens team. If the opportunity arose would you ever swap Premiership rugby for sevens full time?

 [RV]: If only that could happen…

 [TC]: Just call me mystic Meg. So Mr Vickerman, all the ladies need to know, well want to know, are you single or taken? My cousin actually was the one who prompted this question! (Sarah)

 [RV]: First time I have been asked since, but happily married!

 [TC]: It’ll never last…only kidding, sorry Sarah. So coming from Leeds originally, how did you find life further north, we hear you have a lot of travelling support?

[RV]: Newcastle was fun, I loved the city and the people and the clichés accepted there. My family do love to watch a bit of rugby – so on Christmas Eve there were around 20 of them at the game, and out that night.

 [TC]: That must have been nice! Falcons came very close to relegation last season, too close. Do you think they will be able to combat that this season?

 [RV]: I hope so. I’ll avoid further clichés and watch with interest in the coming months.

[TC]: Who are the players you look up to in rugby today?

[RV]: Most of them, I’m only 5’11″!!

 [TC]: ONLY?! Try being 5’2”!!

 [TC]: Where is your favourite ground to play in the world?

[RV]: I did enjoy most of the sevens stadiums we played in last time I featured in 2009, but the top one has to be the Cake Tin, Westpac Stadium in Wellington. The atmosphere was immense!

[TC]: Well thanks Rob for taking the time out to do the interview and giving your old teammates a good hammering. Good luck with the Sevens!

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Calcutta Cup England 22

Looking to bring this team ethic back

The Calcutta Cup this year is billed to be closer than ever before. It is never easy for England to go away to Scotland and im pretty sure the team don’t particularly relish the prospect!

The Scots really have some fire in their bellies and the English look set to send out a new look squad so the competition is very much a case of who is more up for it.

England have also been through the mill via the press post World Cup and need a win to give some credibility to the nature they wish to portray and not the painting the media paints so perfectly.

The squad for Scotland is as follows:

15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Owen Farrell, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Ben Youngs, 1 Alex Corbisiero, 2 Dylan Hartley, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Mouritz Botha, 5 Tom Palmer, 6 Tom Croft, 7 Chris Robshaw, 8 Phil Dowson Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Geoff Parling, 19 Ben Morgan, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Jordan Turner-Hall, 22 Mike Brown