The Rugby Players Association (The RPA) has today announced the launch of a new initiative that will see retired players returning to their former clubs to offer current squads first-hand insight into the challenges and opportunities facing them when they have finished playing.

Taking place throughout the 2017-18 season, Transition Talks will form part of the RPA’s wider support offering through the Personal Development Programme (PDP).

Backed by Premiership Rugby and the RFU, the RPA PDP provides essential wellbeing and personal development support to RPA members and plays an integral role in preparing them for life after rugby.

Transition Talks will see former players sharing their personal experiences of transition while giving current players the opportunity to ask about the fundamentals of retirement, from finding work and managing finances, to coping with the emotional impact of leaving the game and the associated loss of identity some may experience.

Transition Talks will be delivered to all 12 Premiership clubs, as well as the Bristol Rugby, Yorkshire Carnegie Academy, England 7s and England Women’s squads.

Former Newcastle Falcon and England 7s captain and current RPA Alumni Representative Rob Vickerman shared his wealth of experience at the inaugural Transition Talk, given to England 7s earlier this month.

Rob Vickerman said: “Having been through my own transition recently I know first-hand what it feels like, so I wanted to help in any way I can. The first presentation with England 7s was difficult, it was probably one of the harder talks I have ever given. I played with a lot of the players, and being open and honest with them was tough.

“I don’t think any player could claim to have had a smooth transition out of the professional game; rugby is one of the best environments you could ever experience. Players rely on their weekly schedule and when that all comes to an end it’s a very strange and empty feeling. The RPA’s Transition Talks will play a vital role in helping players understand some of the difficulties they may face, but also encourage them to start planning for their future post-rugby. I am exceptionally proud to be helping our players and working with the RPA to share my story and increase awareness.”

RPA Senior Development Manager, Caroline Guthrie said: “It’s been hugely encouraging to see player engagement in the RPA’s Personal Development Programme at an all-time high over the past couple of seasons, but it’s important to guard against complacency. The Transition Talks are just one of a number of exciting past-player approaches the RPA has developed to better support our members.

"A career can be over in an instant, so it is essential that players are actively preparing for their transition from the game. 1 in 3 retired players do not feel in control of their lives in the first two years of retirement, so the importance of effective preparation and consistent support really cannot be overstated. We’re extremely grateful to the former players who are giving up their time to be part of this initiative. The response to the initial session has been phenomenal and we’re confident that the RPA Transition Talks will provide invaluable insight for our members.”