The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) staged a highly impressive business networking evening last week in London, hosted by RPA official partner Aviva. The event was attended by players from Saracens, Harlequins, London Irish and London Welsh, as well as several members of the England Women’s squad.
The event was one of a series developed by the RPA to improve players’ business connections and help to develop stronger links between the commercial world and rugby players. The RPA’s biggest single investment is in its Player Development Programme, which provides a number of services and benefits for the players designed to look after their wellbeing, broaden their experience and help to prepare them for life after they finish playing.
Experienced Internationals like Ian Gough, Tomas O’Leary and Maggie Alphonsi were among those present along with many players at the start of their rugby careers. They all had their playing profiles and business interests featured in the event programme, which helped the wide array of business luminaries present to get a better understanding of the commercial sectors that may be of particular interest to them.
The setting on the 23rd floor of Aviva’s impressive headquarters overlooking London and its many iconic landmarks in the evening sunset, was the perfect backdrop for the players to see the City and get to understand the potential and outstanding business opportunities that it has to offer the rugby fraternity.
In a question and answer session, Joe Ansbro, Maggie Alphonsi and Andrew Fenby offered some fascinating thoughts on a wide number of aspects of the game. Ansbro, who last season broke his neck and had to retire aged 27 at the height of an outstanding playing career with Northampton Saints, London Irish and Scotland offered some particularly insightful and pertinent thoughts. He spoke of the dark days he faced after being forced to retire and of the positive support he received, which has enabled him to move on to new challenges leading to him recently securing a senior teaching position at Harrow School.
“With hindsight, I would definitely have spent more time during my playing career looking at different work opportunities and perhaps spending two or three days every couple of months gaining work experience. Opportunities such as tonight are absolutely brilliant for meeting people, getting business cards and giving you direct access to business professionals who can be of great help to you in the future. The RPA and Aviva have set up a superb event and I would urge all current players to take full advantage of any opportunities like this