A remarkably grounded view of rugby

By, of course, Brian O’Driscoll’s old headmaster:

Rugby is not a profession, and I always emphasise this to the students. It is an occupation for your 20s, and also a leave of absence from life. You are frogmarched around, and suddenly you are in your 30s and the lights out.”

5 thoughts on “A remarkably grounded view of rugby”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    These days the money is so big that it probably doesn’t matter. If you play in one of the major leagues, you probably have enough cash by the time you retire at 32 to live on for the rest of your life.

    If you’re not playing in the majors, then naturally no one is going to think it is a profession. You probably have to pay for your own orange pieces.

    Which is probably true when O’Driscoll’s headmaster last had a chat with the young lad. They were the shameateur days surely. No one thought it was a profession. How old is O’D?

  2. I’ve got a neighbour who played a couple of games for the All Blacks but then decided to follow the money in Europe (he admitted that he would only be a part-time All Black to cover for injury as he simply wasn’t as good as his competition).

    After 8 years playing in the UK, and at age 35, he has retired back to New Zealand, bringing an absolutely stunning wife with him, and leaving a property portfolio worth quite a few million dotted around the place (it is hard to figure out exactly what it is worth – as he isn’t all that boastful).

    He is now at university, studying business admin, and “getting back into real life” as, whilst he doesn’t have to work, he knew that he would get bored. Luckily for us he also coaches at the son’s rugby club on a Saturday morning – so the 6 year old is getting trained up by the best from an early age!

  3. Knowing a number of professional rugby players, and sports agents/lawyers, I can add some light on this – England-wise, anyway.

    A top England player will make about £300,000 pa from his club and country.

    They may add a few quid on top from endorsements and personal appearances, but the former don’t pay as much as you might think these days (England are rubbish) and there isn’t masses of time for the latter, what with all the training, club appearances, England appearances etc.

    So if you say £400,000 tops for 10 years (it won’t be that much, because injury, loss of form, other players coming in)…

    After tax and living expenses (they buy fast cars)… you cannot do nothing at 32 when the tap is turned off.

    J Wilkinson is the only English player who *has* made enough money to take the SMFS approach and literally retire (c £10-15 million, his dad is an IFA, his agent, Tim Buttimore, is a good one, though now semi retired), but he won’t (he’ll stop playing eventually, obviously, but you won’t see him lounging on any yachts).

    *No-one* else from his playing era (the most lucrative in terms of serious endorsements) made anything like that, and I include Johnson, Dallaglio and Robinson (the next biggest earners).

    None of them has retired, either. (In the sense of doing nothing.) What they have done is quit playing rugby, bought bigger houses, or added extensions, and gone into the media, or property development, or taken paid employment with a bank or something.

  4. Should add, the French are changing this equation slightly – hence Toby Flood leaving leicester etc.

    But even then, if Flood is on £500k pa as reported, he has turned his back on Emgland cash and will probably have three years at it over there.

    I have no idea how much he has saved, but I know where he lives (East Langton in Leicestershire) and what he paid for his house vs how much he’s getting for it… he won’t be able to retire, either.

    Once (if) the French go to £1 million pa, 10 years of that, living carefully, maybe you could retire to a beach somewhere.

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    Interested – “Once (if) the French go to £1 million pa, 10 years of that, living carefully, maybe you could retire to a beach somewhere.”

    I knew there was a reason I liked you. I like your style. I mean most people might think that 5 million quid on wages over a decade would be enough to retire on. But no, not when you’ve got poppets and Aston Martins to support.

    The problem with people who go into other fields is probably not that they don’t have enough but they don’t know what to do with their time. Rugby players aren’t all notably intellectual or inclined to garden. So what do you do at 35 if you have little real education or interests?

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