Yorkshire Carnegie Academy enhance their on and off pitch life skills


A group of Yorkshire Carnegie Academy players recently swapped the rugby pitch for an insightful life skills communication and media workshop organised in conjunction with the RPA’s Personal Development Programme (PDP) and Yorkshire Carnegie Academy.

The 15 players in attendance were joined by their Academy Player Development Manager and RPA Alumni member, Jonathan Pendlebury, RPA Personal Development Manager, Mandy Thompson, and several guest presenters including former Scotland, Edinburgh, Gloucester and Newcastle scrum-half, Rory Lawson, Director of Speak the Speech, Duncan ‘Boo’ Holmes, Yorkshire Carnegie Communications Manager, Leanne Flynn and BBC Radio Leeds presenter, Gareth Jones.

Held at the club’s West Park training base, the workshop got underway with a talk from Rory Lawson, speaking about his playing journey, his transition into the ‘real world’ and his experience working as a Sky Sports pundit.

This was followed by several sessions focusing on public speaking skills, body language and communication.

Throughout the afternoon the players were interviewed by each of the media professionals and then given feedback and tips on how they can improve and elaborate their responses.

A key aim of the day was to develop the understanding and importance of clear concise communication and presentation skills that are helpful not only in their professional rugby careers, but can also be transferred into off pitch activity.

One player who the found the workshop incredibly beneficial was England U20s Captain, Jack Walker.

“I found the whole experience extremely helpful, and in particular the media side of the day and how to better understand the situations that we might face in pre or post-match interviews.

“It was very beneficial to listen and learn from the industry experts on what we should and shouldn’t say to the media and also the best way to present ourselves in a positive manner despite what might have occurred on the pitch.

“I also thoroughly enjoyed the presentation given by Rory Lawson, in particular how he embraced his transition from rugby into the next chapter of his life.”

For Lawson, who made 31 test appearances for Scotland from 2006 to 2012, the workshop presented the perfect opportunity for the 34-year-old to give back to the game he retired from in 2013.

“I was delighted to have been asked to come along to the workshop and lend my voice to the Academy lads on what I went through, and how I prepared for my transition out of rugby.

“I believe it’s vitally important for professional rugby players to be fully equipped with some form of media training, and it’s great to see today’s workshop really helping the players feel more confident when speaking to the press.

“As an ex player I’m jealous that these guys still have this wonderful rugby career ahead of them but at the same time I feel extremely privileged to be able to stay connected with the game and help in any way I can.”

Fellow RPA Alumni member and Yorkshire Carnegie Academy Player Development Manager, Jonathan Pendlebury, praised the enthusiasm shown by his players throughout the workshop.

“This was a fantastic experience for the players and one they thoroughly enjoyed. It was a great opportunity for them to hear from industry experts and better understand certain skills that they can use in their careers.

“The feedback we got from the team was really positive and I think they will take away a great deal that will prepare them well for the future, not just when dealing with the press but with any public speaking they may need to do.’’

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