The first season as an academy player can be the hardest, toughest, and most exciting experience of the professional rugby journey. For more than 100 of the most talented young players in the country, the annual RPA Academy Induction Day provides an opportunity to gain important education, guidance and support as they embark on their first season in the professional game.
Staged at the historic Rugby School, the annual Induction Day is held in conjunction with Tom Maynard Trust.
Set up in memory of former Glamorgan and Surrey cricketer, Tom Maynard, who was tragically killed in June 2012, the trust plays an essential role supporting the event which provides an opportunity for academy players to learn about life as a professional player.
From mental health and resilience training, to agent information, social media, media insights and alcohol awareness, the players spend the day rotating through various seminars hosted by industry experts, in an effort to prepare them for a career as a full-time professional.
To learn more about the event and why players find it so beneficial, we sat down with 2018 attendees, Will Muir (England 7s), Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks) and Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti (Newcastle Falcons).
What makes this event so important?
Will Muir: It gives first-year players the opportunity to fully understand what a professional rugby career might look like. I found the whole experience extremely beneficial. There were a range of topics covered that I hadn’t even thought about prior to attending, and I now feel equipped and ready for the season ahead.
Cameron Redpath: It provides a terrific base to learn from, and really inspires players to make the most of every opportunity. For me, I found the whole day very important. It was great to learn more about the role of the RPA and what we can expect as a pro rugby player. There were a lot of subjects that we wouldn’t normally learn about at club level and the RPA made them a priority.
Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti: The event really encourages you to think outside the box and understand what professional rugby will involve. It was a very cool day. I learnt loads from the experience and the RPA staff were all friendly, outgoing and supportive throughout the event. My initial expectation was it was going to be a boring and long day. However, I was proven wrong and thoroughly enjoyed it.
What aspect of the day did you find the most beneficial?
WM: I really enjoyed the agents workshop delivered by the RPA’s Julian Springer. There were aspects around the role of agents that I didn’t know, in particular some of things to look out for when signing an agent and also what could potentially go wrong.
CR: I loved the social media workshop with Matt Himsworth. Modern sport revolves around digital media and athletes have to be extremely careful online. Learning how to protect ourselves on social media and implement the two-factor authentication on our accounts was very beneficial.
CNK: The alcohol awareness session delivered by Tom Fitzsimons was very powerful. The story Tom told about his alcohol addiction and his journey to becoming sober was incredible and really hit home for me.
What impact did the guest speakers, Jonny Arr, Peter Short, Rob Vickerman and Mark Lambert have on you?
WM: Understanding what they have experienced and some of the life lessons they have overcome in their careers and lives, really put things in perspective. Listening to these guys was massively inspiring, in particular Rob Vickerman who is an idol and role model for the 7s squad. He’s the guy that we really inspire to be like, so it was incredible to listen to him and hear his advice for players.
CR: Having just overcome an ACL injury it was great to hear from guys who have been through similar things in their careers and returned successfully. It was very reassuring to understand that there is a way back and there are people who can and will support you.
CNK: The guest speakers were great. It was very cool to listen to them and hear of their rugby experiences and how they started to prepare for life after the game. It made me start thinking about my back-up plan and what I would to do away from rugby.
Did you enjoy socialising with the other academy players?
WM: It was great to catch up with the lads. There were a few familiar faces, and it was a great meet the other players and have a chat about the season ahead and their rugby journey so far.
CR: I loved the social aspect of the day. There were lots of guys who I have played with and against, so it was great to have a chat with them. I had lunch with a few of the Wasps and Worcester lads and it was nice to just have a chat and hear how things are different in their club programme, and what we can learn from each other.
CNK: It was awesome to see the lads. Socialising with the other players made the experience for me. Just having a chat throughout the day and speaking about the season ahead and the challenges we might face was terrific.
To learn more about the RPA Academy Induction Day please contact Natalie Beckett on nbeckett@theRPA.co.uk or 020 3053 6670.
Player imagery courtesy of Chris Lishman and Rugby Europe / Rafał Gąglewski.