HSBC Private Bank hosted Tuesday’s inaugural England 7s RPA Business Club Networking Evening, with attendance from RPA Business Partners including HSBC, Aviva, Virgin Atlantic, BMW, Accenture and KPMG, as well as a number of other companies and industry sectors from travel, recruitment, marketing, law and education.
The evening was part of the RPA Player Development Programme, designed to create a business environment for the current England 7s players where they can network and make connections with decision makers in companies who may be able to support them once their playing careers come to an end. The evening was attended by players in the current England 7s squad including captain Rob Vickerman, Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Ollie Phillips, Chris Cracknell, Dan Norton, Sam Edgerley, John Brake, Christian Lewis-Pratt, Dan Bibby, Jeff Williams, James Lightfoot-Brown, Mike Ellery, and Ollie Marchon.
Impressed by the surroundings of the HSBC Private Bank the players embraced the opportunity to speak to a number of different contacts, learning about their industries as well as about the routes they had taken to establish their careers.
In reference to the importance of the evening, Ollie Phillips said: ‘It’s vital for us as players and as a team. This gives us the opportunity to have a different type of conversation and I think it would be very naïve of us to think we’re able to keep playing rugby for a long time. There’s a whole variety of people here this evening from bankers, to insurers, to recruitment consultants, to education specialists, to corporate finance people to help you with business ideas. The wider spectrum the RPA can offer to the players is amazing and it’s so good for our sport.’
The RPA Player Development Programme individually supports players in their personal and professional development, helping them to identify and plan for their careers after rugby. Networking evenings are an important part of the programme, as are the partnerships the RPA develop with companies such as HSBC and Aviva.
Andrea de Vincentiis, Head of Rugby Sponsorship at HSBC, who hosted the evening said: ‘Our partnership with the RPA allows us to support players outside of their playing careers through providing them with our Premier banking service, opportunities to network amongst the business community as well as provide work experience within where we can. It’s important for us to give the players this kind of exposure to the outside world.’
In his opening address to the room captain Rob Vickerman highlighted the importance of these partnerships and events run by the RPA, explaining that although the lifestyle on the 7s circuit is a fantastic job it is a relatively short lived career, so the opportunity to network in a business environment and engage in the Player Development Programme is hugely appreciated by the players.
Christian Lewis-Pratt also reflected Rob’s thoughts saying: ‘The Player Development Programme is brilliant for the players. We don’t naturally stumble across the people we might need to meet for the business ventures we’re interested in so evenings like this have given me the opportunity to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise have met. The boys are excited to talk people in different fields.’
Louisa Cheetham, Senior Sponsorship Manager at Aviva, spoke of the partnership between Aviva and the RPA and the benefits that it brings to both parties as well as the players: ‘Our partnership with the RPA is twofold not only understanding giving a platform for our products and services but also we are able to give something back through the Insight days where players get to understand a little more about working for a large insurance company. Fundamentally the skills that you learn as a rugby player are ones that are easily transferable into the working environment, and whether that’s Aviva or HSBC or more niche environments there are a lot of opportunities for the players.’
The RPA hosts networking evenings up and down the country, inviting local businesses, partners and players along. If you would be interested in attending one of these events and supporting the Player Development Programme please contact the RPA’s Director of Rugby Richard Bryan on RBryan@theRPA.co.uk.