For the Players
For the game

Falcons expand their nest of contacts

April 26th, 2013

Players from Newcastle Falcons who are engaged in The RPA’s Player Development Programme were given a taste of city life this week as over 20 of the squad took part in a Player Networking Evening, hosted by leading commercial law firm Muckle LLP.

Also in attendance supporting the players were former Lions’ and England internationals Dean Richards and Peter Winterbottom, who both shared stories with invited guests about their days playing for England and gave a fascinating insight into the game of professional rugby.

The evening was arranged by RPA Player Development Manager Mandy Thompson who explained, “At the RPA, through our Player Development Programme, we aim to make a player’s transition to life after rugby as smooth as possible. It is important to help equip them during their playing career with the skills and connections they will need when they choose, or are forced, to retire’’.

“An evening such as this is invaluable in giving players an opportunity to mix in a business environment and develop contacts, while also investigating various career paths which will be open to them after rugby.  By providing their own post rugby career interest biographies, this helped focus introductions. It enables them to understand more about the real world outside of rugby, and also to appreciate they have transferable skills which are highly sought after in business.

It was opportune timing for Falcons’ prop Jonny Golding who recently announced he would be retiring from professional rugby at the end of the season. Golding said: “Networking events like this are really important to the players and encourage even the younger guys to start thinking about life after rugby. It’s a massive plus for us to get a link to successful business people who also enjoy watching rugby and it’s important to make use of those links.

“The business people we are speaking to here are experts in their field so it’s a great opportunity to get advice from people who do this every day and the players really appreciate being able to pick their brains. When I retire I’m looking forward to also testing myself mentally after all the physical challenges of rugby so I’m really excited about opportunities which might be out there in the business world and I’ll be trying to absorb as much new information as possible from the experts here tonight.”

Tane Tu’ipulotu added: “These nights are very important for players who will one day make the move from rugby into the real world. It’s always nice to have a few numbers to call upon in times of need to look after your future. You can get caught up in the rugby bubble sometimes and forget what the real world is about.

“For guys like Jonny [Golding] these are their last few months in the game so it’s definitely a big focus and the boys here really appreciate all the help we are given by the RPA to get us through the jump from rugby into the tough new world!”

Falcons’ winger Andrew Higgins was also impressed by the initiative and doors the event could open for players: “It was really good to experience this kind of business environment away from rugby and to see what other people are doing. Hopefully some leads can also come from it, but essentially it’s just really good to be a part of and to talk to people.  Hopefully we can continue to develop the relationships we are making here tonight.

“Mandy has been really vocal about starting to make connections early in your rugby career which is why you see guys from the Academy and a lot of young players here as well as a number of players who are coming towards the end of their playing careers like myself.

“I’m approaching retirement age and I believe the more you can be informed about the future and the direction you could go in the better. Like a number of the players here I’ve enrolled in the Leadership and Management course at Northumbria University facilitated by the RPA Player Development Programme and I’m really enjoying that. Time management is the hardest thing but apart from that it’s really enjoyable and I’ve learnt so much. I wouldn’t have known about it if Mandy from the RPA hadn’t helped to create the course and told us about what was possible in our spare time.”

Overall the evening was a huge success both for players absorbing information about a different world and for the business clients who were able to meet the players and learn from the leadership and motivation aspects discussed by Dean Richards and Peter Winterbottom.

Jonathan Combe, Partner and Head of Muckle LLP’s Real Estate Group said: “The event was thought provoking and very entertaining for our guests from the world of business and for the Falcons players. It was enlightening hearing from Peter and Dean and the event also provided the Falcons players with an opportunity to make some excellent contacts in the business world and to spend time learning about different careers that interest them.”

Players in attendance were: Tom Catterick, Jamie Helleur, Allister Hogg, Chris Pilgrim, Alex Tait, Andrew Higgins, Rob Vickers, Oliver Tomaszczyk, Chris York, Jordi Pasqualin, Daniel Frazier (Alumni), Jonny Golding, Tane Tu’ipulotu, James Hallam, Scott Wilson, Zach Kibirige, Rory Lawson, Sean Tomes, Mark Laycock (Academy Manager), James Ponton (Academy Head Coach)

Thank you to Muckle LPP for hosting this event and to all the players and coaches for attending suited and booted.