In the first of a series of interviews with former Wasps and Worcester players, we've spoken to former Warrior, now Bristol Bears player Joe Batley about how he has found the last few months...
Firstly, how are you?
I’m a lot better now I have a job! All the stress of that has gone away, which is good. The commute is a bit of a pain I can’t lie, but I’ll be looking to move down to Bristol at some point so that’s good.
How have the last few months impacted on you, and your family?
It’s been massive, I don’t see them as much, which is obviously tough. There’s been tremendous change, we’re going to have to sell our house and stuff which is exhausting. But I’m just incredibly grateful to be still doing the job I love. The process of when Worcester was going under was obviously difficult because we didn't know what was going on really, until we had a feeling it was going to go wrong, but until it goes there, you have that hope, and it’s the hope that kills you, doesn’t it?
I’ve got a one-year-old, so my partner doesn’t work at the moment because she looks after him. We were looking to getting him into a nursery which is something we've had to put on hold because we didn't know where we're going to be. It stops my partner looking for a job because we’re now going to look to move house. It’s all been a lot but just thankful I now have employment and we go again.
What were your first thoughts and feelings when the liquidation of WRFC Players was confirmed?
Pretty angry to be honest. Disappointed and upset too. I just felt like we got left out to dry a little as a group. Obviously, the writing was on the wall for quite a few months prior and obviously everyone got the wool pulled over their eyes by the owners.
However, at the same time, when things started becoming clear, even in July, which was a few months before it finished in October, I don't know what more could have been done, if anything, or what was going on behind the scenes. But it felt like as a group, we got left to fight it out for ourselves and it was a battle we were always going to lose.
How important has the RPA and your Development Manager been for you at this time?
The RPA have done their best. It’s tough for them when something like this happens, I mean it's tough when it happens to one club, but I can’t imagine how hard it’s been when it’s happened to two clubs. There are so many pieces, everyone’s lives get shattered into pieces, there are just so many things to pick up.
They’ve been amazing with helping us try and claim some money back through the government schemes and stuff like that which has been really good and supportive. And I see they have managed to help boys get employment with the portal they’ve done and keeping on top of the boys.
What were your initial emotions when you returned to Bristol Bears?
I was extremely happy and relieved to be picked up by Bristol and Pat Lam. It’s a dream come true. It's amazing to get paid to do the job that I love, but I can only go a couple of months, not being paid before I was up the creek without a paddle. I was relieved I was able to support my family.
Another important fact was I was familiar with being with Bristol previously and coaches that I have worked on previously, so that was obviously a massive plus for me as well and for it to be commutable so I can drive there and back every day, so for me to still have some family time was massively important as well.
There are a number of your former Worcester teammates with you at Bristol, how was that been for you?
It’s incredibly good. To see former Worcester teammates, get a gig and a chance to continue their career is amazing. And for then for me to continue to play alongside some of the boys and see them every day and watch their careers grow and flourish – it's been really positive and great. Plus, on a selfish note, it’s been helping with a load of driving to and from everywhere so that’s been good too!