Cambridge Blue: Charlie Amesbury

Following a career that spanned 13 years and four Premiership clubs, Charlie Amesbury understands the importance of planning ahead. The 31-year-old already has a biology degree to his name and recently retired from professional rugby to focus on studying for a masters at Cambridge University.

How are you enjoying life as a Cambridge student? It’s been really enjoyable. It’s tough work and challenging at times but I’m loving the chance to meet new people and attend the various social events on offer. It’s a great place to study.

What inspired you to undertake your masters in Social Innovation? Following the completion of a biology degree earlier in my career I was really motivated to embark on more study. I was definitely drawn to the opportunities available at Judge Business School and spoke to my Director of Rugby, Andy Robinson, about potentially taking a two-month sabbatical from playing to complete the first year of a master’s degree. Andy and the club were great and agreed to let me start searching through the courses on offer. A masters in Social Innovation immediately caught my attention with some great modules and the opportunity to explore the mechanics of running a business whilst creating a social good.

You then retired from professional rugby in early 2017 to focus on your studies, why did you feel the time was right? My body was starting to give me signs that it was time to go and I was looking for a new challenge. The opportunity arose to captain Cambridge which has been a massive privilege, a learning curve but also allowed me to stay in rugby.

How have you found the transition? I miss going into to training and the changing room banter that goes along with it.  It will also be difficult to watch from the side lines.  But I am lucky to take away some lifelong friends from the game. However I am now enjoying my new focus and its challenges, and it’s been great to build a fresh network of friends away from professional rugby.

What would be your advice to current players looking to explore further education? For me it’s a no brainer. As rugby players we always worry that tomorrow might be our last day on a rugby pitch. You can never take away the chance of injury, but you can give yourself a fall-back option by completing a degree. I would encourage all players to speak to the RPA and find something that really interests you. It will help you get away from all the stress and uncertainty of a professional rugby career and will keep you motivated and driven to achieve something great.  

Are there opportunities for RPA members to study at Cambridge and Oxford? Absolutely and I fully recommend it. Although I think you have to take a longer term view and really plan what qualities and experiences you can bring to your desired university. You can’t rely on your rugby career, you need to study, volunteer and do work experience to really amplify your skills and knowledge. They are tough places to get in so you need to put in the ground work to make it happen.

You were elected the Cambridge club captain earlier this year, can you describe what your role involves? The position is comparable to that of a Director of Rugby. Alongside the playing secretary, we have to organise the year, from tours, to coaching in order to succeed in our one common goal to win the Varsity match. It’s a challenging role but something I have found really interesting. I enjoy working with the coaches and players, and strive to provide an enjoyable rugby experience whilst achieving a high performance standard.

Having experienced it first-hand, how would you describe the rivalry between Cambridge and Oxford? It’s something that I didn’t really understand until I became embedded in the Cambridge culture. It’s hugely intense and the rivalry is incredibly high. Once you pull on the shirt your name goes down in history and you will always be recognised as a Cambridge player. It’s a great privilege.

Can Cambridge win back-to-back Varsity matches for the first time since 2007? That’s our aim. Oxford have recruited really well, but we’re confident and know we have the ability to achieve another positive result.

If you’re interested in furthering your education away from rugby please speak to your RPA Personal Development Manager or click here for more information.