As another season of rugby fast approaches, the RPA staged its annual Academy Induction Day in partnership with the Tom Maynard Trust at Loughborough University on Monday 11th August. Over 70 of the country’s brightest young stars from the Aviva Premiership and Greene King IPA Championship took part in the day aimed to educate and prepare players for their future rugby careers.
The Tom Maynard Trust was created in memory of former Glamorgan and Surrey cricketer and rising England batsman Tom Maynard, who was tragically killed in London in June 2012. The Trust has already established a successful partnership with the PCA (Professional Cricketers’ Association), sponsoring their rookie camp, and has now extended this support to The RPA and rugby stars of the future.
The aim of The RPA Academy Induction Day is to educate, offer guidance and inspire first year academy players about their future careers. They are given information on both the opportunities available to them and the potential risks associated with professional sport, while also being reminded of the importance of developing as individuals and preparing for life after rugby.
The morning session covered a whole range of different rugby perspectives as the players rotated their way through a program of seminars and activities, covering subjects such as social media, working with the media, agents and legal advice as well as money management.
Players were also given the opportunity to meet and greet with a range of RPA sponsors and learn more about the various member offers. The sponsors in attendance included LG, BMW, AFEX, HSBC, The Training Room and Canterbury.
One highlight of the day was when the players heard from England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster and current squad members Jack Nowell and Mako Vunipola.
Lancaster spoke about his time in charge of England and his own personal journey through the ranks, while also lending advice on the responsibilities, professionalism and determination needed to break into the England team.
Jack Nowell and Mako Vunipola highlighted their rise through English age grade and Premiership rugby, speaking about their experiences in camp and the level that you are expected to perform to in training, in public and when dealing with the media.
Immediately following the England discussion, GamCare UK presented on the dangers of professional athletes falling into gambling addiction. Players listened to various examples of athletes who have found themselves in trouble after falling so deep in debt that they could no longer support their families.
The final session of the day saw an inspiring speech by former Wasps and England flanker Tom Rees who was forced to retire due to a knee injury in 2012 at the age of just 27. Rees spoke about the day to day graft of being a professional athlete and all that entails, his traumatic retirement and his life as a Medical Student after rugby.
All the player presentations were very well received by the Academy players who can only dream of achieving the heights that Jack, Mako and Tom have reached.
One notable onlooker throughout the day was London Welsh captain Tom May, who took the day off from pre-season training to make a guest appearance and share his own personal experiences.
May has been a long servant of the English game having played for Newcastle Falcons, Northampton Saints and London Welsh and has always been particularly interested in the work the RPA does with young players.
“The RPA are fantastic when it comes to working with young academy players. I remember when I first started at a club there was nowhere near as much emphasis on these sort of events and it was mainly down to the individual to sought out opportunities. But thanks to events like the RPA Academy Induction Day, young players are exposed to the support and benefits available to them as they work their way to a full-time contract. I feel very privileged to be invited to a day like this and to see the time, effort and thought that has gone into helping players develop their life off-field, is amazing.