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!

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,

Continue reading

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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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

Six Nations Service Disruption

Domestic V International

 

The effect of the Six Nations on club rugby. I’m sure I am not the only person who is absolutely buzzing about the start of the Six Nations, the world’s best annual rugby union tournament, in a few short weeks. Three English away games, a world cup quarter-final and semi-final rematch, and the possibility of any team finishing last. But with Saracens F.C. voicing their concern about the timing of the tournament, is there any way of pleasing everyone?

There is an argument for a winter break or perhaps the postponement of the league whilst the tournament is in progress. This would allow for the cream of the European crop to come together to play each other at the start of the year, and allow a break for some players. This would also mean that any injured players would not miss as much of the tail end of the season and that call ups to squads would not come with the same old grumbles from disgruntled fans, unhappy at how their team’s top players have been pillaged from their starting line ups which very little notice.

It was proposed earlier this week that in 2015, the start of the Aviva Premiership would be delayed until after the Rugby World Cup pool stages, or potentially a group of matches would be played before. The French teams did not start playing each other until after their national team had returned. However the French don’t play an equivalent of our LV= cup and therefore have caught up with our teams on the number of games played already. Perhaps dropping the LV= cup would solve some of the problems faced by the English and Welsh clubs. The only problem with the removal of this tournament is that some clubs see it as one of the best ways of getting silverware to the club. Clubs that may not always be contenders for the Premiership or the Pro 12 often attempt to win this trophy. It also brings in the financial benefits that having more than one sponsor and more television rights does. Therefore that is not a viable option.

 There are of course many benefits to the Six Nations. It allows for some of the younger players, or reserve team players to get a chance to prove themselves, it’s through tournaments like the Six Nations that players like Manu Tuilagi came to the forefront among people less familiar with rugby, through his sparkling club form. It also allows for some of the weaker teams to take points off the stronger teams and allow for a more exciting end to season at the bottom of the table. Yet the table has arguably already been turned this season by the World Cup.

The Six Nations is also plainly and simply, a wonderful competition. It is the perfect stage for all six teams to showcase some of their young talent and to play for the annual bragging rights that come with victory. Last year Warren Gatland left some previously key Welsh players at home so that he could pick a more youthful team, and look where that got him. Wales may not have had the best six nations, (they came fourth, equal on points with the Irish and the French) but they were many people’s team of the World Cup, cruelly knocked out by a contentious decision from half Gallic – half Celtic, referee Alain Rolland. This removal of the young players clearly affected the Welsh teams, as none of them could break into the top 3 and proves the power of the young player at both club and international level.

The Six Nations 2011 Champions

At this year’s Six Nations Stuart Lancaster can prepare a team for the future, whether it is for himself, or the bookies favourite Nick Mallett. They allow players who would not have previously shone next to their capped brothers to become the stars of the show. Prior to the World Cup, many observers would not have known who Owen Farrell was but now he is a shoe in into the England squad for anyone with any understanding of rugby.. Many forwards are also set to take their chance in this year’s Six Nations. With Wales having already blooded Toby Falateau, Sam Warburton, and Luke Charteris perhaps now would be a good time for the other home nations to do the same.

It is the youth of rugby that will define the future of it. But with increasing pressure applied by the clubs on the IRB, perhaps it is time for a change. Some reformers have suggested the addition of other teams to the six nations, perhaps adding Romania, who despite failing to make it past the group stages, had an excellent campaign against England and Scotland, as well as maybe Georgia, Holland, or Russia. The only problem with is that the creation of a knockout would lead to some teams losing their players for longer, causing more tension, as well as the loss of television revenues, as more people are likely to tune in to the bigger games.

 If this does not work, then perhaps the removal of the Six Nations during world cup years, so that if after 2015, the Premiership and Pro 12 decide to start during the competition, then clubs like Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers, and the new boys, Saracens, won’t lose more than ten senior players for almost a third of the season. Again, this is unlikely because of the loss of television rights from it. Whatever happens in the future, by recruiting youth into the international squads, whilst it may do some harm at club level to the standings, there is sufficient time at the end of the season to recuperate some points and most teams have very good reserves, and should be able to cope with the non-European players from which they have to pick from *cough* Sarries *cough*.

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Six Nations Starters

So tomorrow is the day a lot of England fans have marked in their diaries as one to watch. The new England coach is set to make his decision on who will be in the 30 man squad for the Six Nations this year.

Lancaster has nothing to lose

This comes after a dismal World Cup and several greats of the game retiring leaving many places up for grabs for uncapped players. One of the most controversial topics ahead of this selection was ruling out a key player Danny care for his second alcohol related arrest in a matter of weeks. Danny is not in contention for the entire Six Nations or until he can prove himself responsible enough to wear the shirt again.

Here at The Rugby Diary we wanted to know your starting 15’s so we asked you, on Twitter (@TheRugbyDiary) and here were a few of your selections.

Laner_45 Chris Lane Stevens, Hartley, Doran-Jones, Lawes, Attwood, Robshaw, Wood, Easter, Youngs, Flood, Banahan, Farrell, Ashton, May, Foden..pick it apart!

 James_Hoggarth James Hoggarth – 15. Foden 14. Ashton 13. Barritt 12. Farrell 11. Homer 10. Lamb 9. Dickson 1. Corbisiero 2. Hartley 3. Stevens 4. Botha 5. Palmer 6. Croft 7. Wood 8. Morgan, that,s taking into account no Manu or Lawes

The_Welsh_Idiot Geoff Owen (Wales) – Halfpenny, North, Davies, Roberts, Cuthbert, Priestland, Phillips; Jenkins, Rees, Jones, Davies, Jones, Lydiate, Warburton and Faletau.

The_Welsh_Idiot Geoff Owen – Brown, Ashton, Tuilagi, Trinder, Strettle, Cipriani, Youngs; Corbisero, Hartley, Coles, Attwood, Lawes, Croft, Wood and Morgan. It would be Flood. But, without him Its Cipriani for me. A mixture of form and attack.

Shakermaker1979 James Tanner – Brown Strettle Trinder Faz Ashton Hodgson Dickson Waldrom Wood Robshaw Palmer Lawes Doran-Jones George Stevens

k_iddon Kate Iddon – Foden , Ashton, Manu, Farrell, Sharples, Hodgson, Youngs, Morgan, Wood, Croft, Attwood , Lawes, Cole, Hartley, Corbisiero! If Flood was fit then him at 10 instead of Hodgson. Would deffo have Robshaw on the bench & Mike Brown!

francojaf James Franco- Corb, Hartley, Cole, Lawes, Parling, Croft, Wood, Morgan, Dickson, Farrell, Twelvetrees, Manu, Ashton, Sharples, Foden.

Roshd63 Rosh My XV: Corbs, Hartley, Cole, Attwood, Palmer, Croft, Wood, Morgan, Youngs, Farrell, Sharples, Barkley, Trinder, Ashton, Foden (Flood in for Farrell, Lawes for Attwood, Manu for Trinder when fit)

DanielFutong Go big or Go home!! – 15. Foden 14. Sharples 13. MANU 12 Farell 11. Ashton 10.Flood 9.Youngs 8.Robshaw 7.Woods 6.Croft 5.Lawes 4. Attwood 3. Doran Jones 2. Hartley 1. Wood

Hydeo22 Mark Hyde – Foden Ashton Sharples Tuilagi Farrell Flood Dickson Morgan Wood Croft Attwood Lawes Marler Hartley Cole

rachel_simmo Rachel Simmonite – Foden Sharples Manu or Trinder Barritt Ashton Farrell Youngs Corbisiero Hartley Cole Lawes Parling Croft Wood Robshaw

Have you picked your starting 15 yet? if you have leave us a comment on this thread or you can even tell us on Twitter TheRugbyDiary!

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