This month’s Rugby Business Network came to grass roots rugby club Dursley RFC and we were honoured to have one the world’s best No 8s there to chat with us – Ben Morgan.
Despite being an international hero, Ben takes time out to support Dursley RFC as much as he can as it’s where his rugby career started at the age of 6 and also where he played right up until he made the jump to the next level of senior rugby and moved to Scarlets.
So, to open up we asked the questions that were on everyone’s mind. How are things going with the leg? Is your recovery going to plan and will we see you on the pitch for the World Cup? Ben was quick to alleviate our worries and let us know that everything was going well, and that yes, he hoped to be back on the pitch in the Autumn. Good news for all of us and we’re all keeping our fingers crossed that everything stays on track.
Club chairman Simon Bilous had talked earlier about the impact of top class players like Ben staying in touch with grass roots clubs and what it does for the youngsters coming through. We asked him how he manages the numerous requests for appearances etc. and he confirmed that thankfully he doesn’t have to make too many decisions over which appearances he can and can’t do as the club make many of those decisions for players. Of course, there’s an exception for Dursley as he has a special link to the club and continues to support wherever possible. When fully fit and playing, it’s more difficult to do things, but when injured, players get a little more time to get out. Having said that, like Tom Savage had mentioned at a previous meeting, Ben did say that he feels as though he’s working twice as hard when he’s injured as when he’s playing!
We went on to discuss life after rugby. With only 10 – 15 years playing career if you don’t pick up serious injury that puts you out of the game earlier I asked Ben whether he’d thought about a career post rugby.
Having stayed at a local club Ben had already started a career in plumbing while he was playing and that’s what he did until he moved to the next level of his career. Early morning starts (sometimes as early as 4.30am) to get to work were the norm but he’s always wanted a career in property management and that’s where he sees his future after rugby. The experience he gained and his dealings with the trades stand him in good stead to be able to manage his own portfolio of property.
However, he did acknowledge that he benefits from his work experience before his full time rugby career took off, something that not every player has. Talking about youngsters coming through academies from the age of 14 he said “They may get to 21 and be told you’re not going to make it. At that stage having known nothing but rugby they find themselves thinking, what am I going to do? It’s a bit of a wake up call”
He went on to say that the younger the player, the less they think about what they will do after rugby. The older you get, or when you pick up injuries, the more you think about what you’ll do but it’s important that it is considered. It’s great that clubs, the RPA and the RBN give players the opportunities to go on courses and placements etc.
We went on to dissect in some depth where England went wrong in the 6 nations championship resulting in us just missing out on the title. As you can imagine, there were many questions about the game in general and the England team, selections and positions. Ben answered every one of them with eloquence and tact giving his thoughts and opinions along the way.
Talking about how early youth players should be given specific positions, Ben went on to say that playing other sports and being moved around positions in rugby helped his game greatly. The ability to play in other positions and understand them helps your understanding of the game. In addition sizes and shapes change with age so that also has an impact. “Yes you are going to want to settle down” he said “You are eventually going to find a natural position where you enjoy it most and that’s important because if you’re not enjoying the position then there’s no point in being on the pitch. The most important thing is you enjoy it because that’s why we play the game”
As we approach the world cup we are asking most speakers their views and opinions of what the results may be. There was, as usual, much discussion but Ben’s verdict that evening? England to win their pool with an England v South Africa final.
An England shirt signed by Ben was raffled on the night to raise funds for the Dursley RFC Change for the Future Project and Ben is pictured here with the happy winner.
Huge thanks to Ben for coming home to Dursley for the meeting. We wish him all the best for his continuing recovery from injury and hope to see him running out onto the field come September.