Not many people have to retire at the age of 37 but that is what happens if you are a professional rugby player. Will James is now embarking on the next chapter of his life and career having been a star on the pitch as a player and as a leader of players off the pitch in his role as Chairman of the Rugby Players Association.
Will James the former Gloucester and Wales lock stepped down as Chairman of the Rugby Players Association (RPA), after retiring from professional rugby at the end of last season. At the age of 37 and after 18 years as a professional rugby player, James is taking up the role of Head of Rugby and Head of Sports Performance and Development at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire.
Will James’ rugby career started at the same time that rugby became a professional game back in 1996. He has had the good fortune to remain fit and play at the top level for almost two decades – an unbelievable achievement given the physical demands on the modern players. He started his career at Bath and played for Pontypool, Pontypridd and the Cornish Pirates before joining Gloucester in 2006. Since then he has played 150 games for the Cherry and Whites. In 2007 he won the first of his 4 caps for Wales and was a member of the 2007 Welsh World Cup squad.
Will became a Player Representative for the RPA in 2008 and held the position of Vice-Chairman for two seasons before becoming Chairman of the RPA in 2009. In that period he has seen the RPA become an even stronger and more influential body in the modern game, “In the professional era, rugby has become a major international sport but it still faces fierce competition from other sports and different forms of entertainment. The players are key to its ongoing development and success and we must do everything possible to protect their interests and wellbeing. The demands on players will continue to rise and as such the role of the RPA will become even more important in protecting the players’ interests while they are playing and at the same time preparing them for life after their rugby careers are over