In the next of our series of interviews with former Wasps and Worcester players, we've spoken to former Wasps prop Ben Harris about how he has found the last few months..
What has the last few months been like for you emotionally?
Yeah, it’s been pretty tough. I'm lucky because I've got a few things going on outside of rugby, but it’s been tough because I'm still injured as well. So, I’m trying to get there with the rehab, I’m struggling with my hamstring as well. But if you sit here and cry about it, it’s not going to get you anywhere, is it?
Ideally, I'd like to be pain free when I’m walking around the house, never mind playing professional sport, but it is what it is.
How has your family been at this time?
It has been difficult. This situation of course bothers me, there are certain bits I’m really angry about, and there are things I can’t control, so I don’t let it affect anything else out of rugby because it's absolutely pointless.
I can’t make the club run the business correctly, I can’t ask them why they decided to do this four or five games into a Premiership season rather than doing it in the pre-season, they must have known this was coming, smart business-people would know that.
The club have signed people from all over the world, who have brought their families over to come and represent this unbelievable club and now they’ve not got a job. I’ve got stuff going on, but trust me, I wish I was still playing rugby. I wish I was fit and healthy, unfortunately, I'm not and the RPA/Restart are helping me pay for that and see surgeons as I’m struggling.
Of course, it’s impacted my family life, but I’ve just cracked on. I’ve not expected anyone to do anything for me, I’ve got out there and networked, and worked closely with my Development Manager, Luke Cheyne, and we’ve been out to a lot of businesses, and I’m pretty set up. Once I’m back fit and raring to go hopefully rugby is still there for me, but if not, I’m not going to waste an opportunity to go out and meet people and so on and so forth.
Talk to us about that moment you were told you were being made redundant, what was it like?
It was like it wasn’t real. I thought there had got to be a ‘but’ coming like you’re going to drop this news on us, but there’s going to be a buyer and you’ll be able to be reinstated on the same contract, you’ll be playing in the Championship next year, that’s what everyone was led to believe.
We were made aware on the Wednesday we would probably have to go into administration because there’s not been a buyer for the club, so we’d have to regroup, go into the Championship, we’ll build our way back up.
We got a message on the Saturday, about the meeting on Monday at 1pm. Everyone was not a bit jokey, but a bit relaxed about it thinking they were just going to confirm we were going into administration. There were three or four people who we didn’t recognise who were the administrators who led the meeting who said: “As of 12:40pm today, Wasps Holdings were under administration and as of now I’m here to make you aware that you are all redundant.”
That was his opening line – and it must have been tough for him to deliver. It was the first bit of honesty we’ve had in a few months.
It was just a shock and you’re looking around the room and look at legends of the clubs, Joe Launchbury, Dan Robson, the Willis brothers, they were all so upset. Seeing legends of the club and game just in absolute floods of tears around you, and you’re having to console them. It’s not a nice feeling and it’ll probably stay with me for a long period of time.
How important has the RPA and your Development Manager been for you at this time?
Luke is probably one of the best guys that I’ve ever met, he really is a top bloke. He is fantastic at his job, I can only speak about what he did for me (but I’m assuming it’ll be the same at other clubs he’s been at), but he’s a brilliant enthusiastic bloke who cares. He doesn’t beat around the bush, if he says he’s going to do something he’ll do it for you, and he’s always there for you if you need it.
He’s been our outlet if we ever needed it, and then alongside Ben Morris who was our Player Representative for the RPA, he was fantastic. If he didn’t know anything, he’d find out within five minutes and tell us where to go/what to do etc.
We never felt like we were on our own, I thought the RPA, Luke and Ben were fantastic.
Restart has helped you when it comes to fronting some medical bills, can you explain that for us…
I tore my hamstring off the bone. That was six and a half months ago, and I should be back training 100%, feeling fit, no pain whatsoever but I’m still struggling with it. So, Restart have again been brilliant. I applied for it, and they paid for me to see the surgeon who has requested scans and injections.
It’s just nice to know that they are there for you. It's something you do really take for granted as a professional sportsman the medical care of things. If you need a scan, you’re having a scan in the afternoon whereas most people have to wait six months for it so we're very lucky to have that care and attention paid for by Restart. It’s a massive help for me and anybody else that needs it.
What’s next for you then Ben?
I want to get back fit and play again. But there's also things in the pipeline. I'm a qualified electrician to start off with. Luke put me in contact with one of the Business Club members of the RPA, MPH Sports, and I’m set to deliver several workshops around the country, speaking about properties and how the income I’ve earned from them has helped me over this time. I've got a little gym in Leamington and coaching is one of my big passions as well.