Following the success of Wednesday’s 18th annual RPA Players’ Awards 2016 in association with England Rugby we speak exclusively to the inaugural winner of the Nine Feet Tall Personal Development Programme Award, Rob Hawkins.
The 33-year-old former Newcastle, Leicester and Bath hooker retired from professional rugby at the end of the 2015/16 season and will now focus on a potential career in the Police.
Firstly Rob congratulations on winning the Nine Feet Tall Personal Development Programme Award, how proud are you of this achievement?
Having just retired from rugby it’s a fantastic way for me to depart from the game and I must thank the team at the RPA and Nine Feet Tall for putting my name forward for this incredible award. It’s obviously a very personal accolade but it reflects a lot of hard work behind the scenes from the RPA and my Personal Development Manager, Mandy Thompson. The service the RPA provides is second to none and Mandy’s been crucial to my transition, helping me gain a role as a Special Constable last November and supporting me as I look to make it a full-time career.
As the inaugural winner how important is it to have an award like this in place?
Hugely important and I think it’s obviously more suited to the guys who are coming towards the end of their careers but having an award which recognises the work players do away from the rugby pitch is fantastic. We all know how important it is to prepare for life after rugby and hopefully by having an award which pays tribute to this hard work will encourage the younger generation of our game to speak to their RPA Personal Development Manager and put a plan in place for a successful transition.
Can you describe how the RPA’s Personal Development Programme supported you throughout your career?
The support I have received from the RPA over the course of my career has been incredible. I have been guided by three fantastic Personal Development Mangers in Josh Frape, Lynsey Ward and most recently Mandy Thompson who were all brilliant in helping me make my transition so much easier. Over the last few years I have been really proactive in speaking to Mandy and trying to work out exactly what my future holds. When I told her I was interested in the Police she got on the phone straight away and organised an initial meeting with Northumbria Police who advised me of the potential opportunities available.
What do you believe is the best aspect of the RPA’s support?
I think it’s just the holistic approach that they take and the depth of support they provide to all players. Whatever the player wants to do the RPA is there to organise meetings with a range of contacts and build development plans to help them gain as much as they possibly can from each opportunity.
Throughout the 2015/16 season you were Newcastle’s RPA Player Representative, can you explain how you found this experience?
It was enormously beneficial and something which I am very proud to have completed. I gained a huge amount of experience and it was great to go behind the scenes and take a closer look at the amazing work the RPA do. Player welfare is incredibly important and the union is at the forefront of making the needs of our members the top priority.
Finally what advice would you give other players when it comes to career planning?
Try as many different things as you can possibly can throughout your career. Rugby won’t last forever and you need to build your interests away from the pitch. My advice would be to find something that you love doing and which you can envisage doing long into the future. Speak to your Personal Development Manager, put a plan in place and build something special.
To read the full RPA Personal Development Programme Annual Report for 2014/15 please click here.
If you are interested in supporting the players through the RPA Personal Development Programme please contact Richard Bryan on 020 3053 6670 or rbryan@theRPA.co.uk