Young players entering the game, players transitioning out of the game, Rugby For Heroes, the Rugby World Cup and all things Gloucester Rugby were on the menu for Thursday’s Cheltenham & Gloucester Rugby Business Network event.
The evening was once again held at the Mercedes-Benz showroom in Cheltenham and more than 80 businesses attended. Hendrix and the team at Mercedes-Benz looked after us well providing refreshments as well as a fantastic venue. In between networking and viewing some of the amazing cars on display there was a great line up of speakers who spoke on a variety of topics.
First up was retired wing commander Paul Sayer who came to talk about his work with Gloucestershire based charity Rugby For Heroes.
Paul talked about why Rugby For Heroes decided to specialise in the area of post traumatic stress. They help servicemen and marines with issues that are less obvious than some of the more visible disabilities which get exposure.
Having discussed the work the Rugby Business Network does to help players transition out of the game earlier in the evening, Paul talked about the parallels that can be drawn between servicemen and rugby players leaving their profession.
“Despite the fact that the military provides a comprehensive settlement service, it can be a bit disconcerting” he said of the transition to civilian life.
To get involved or see what events Rugby For Heroes have planned visit their website.
Talking about rugby, education and injury was Tom Savage, current Gloucester team captain.
He talked about the importance of younger and older players keeping up with their education. When asked about how he balanced his studies with his rugby early on he replied
“It all fell in to place really nicely for me. With my last year of study I was playing the Saturday team at Hartbury as well as training alongside Gloucestershire. They gave me every opportunity to perform and train at the highest level to see if I’ve got what it takes.”
“My parents guided me and sent me to uni. They said that is the right thing to do – getting an education to fall back on. I know that I had the backing of that degree if it did all go wrong or I didn’t quite make it. I had the opportunity to put it to good use”
When asked about the ‘injury beard’ he explained that he had committed to growing and keeping the beard until he was back playing again “We have up and down days, me and the beard – I haven’t named it or anything!”
“I’ve made a decision and I’ll stick by it until I’m fit and out on the pitch”
A sight we all hope will be sooner rather than later – being on the pitch that is, we’re not too worried about the beard!
The final speaker of the evening was Stephen Vaughan, CEO of Gloucester Rugby Club.
Stephen gave a refreshingly frank and honest opinion of how the club is doing both on the pitch and off. With his background in business earlier in his career, his insight into how the club runs as a business and what changes they’ve had to make to keep the club profitable was surprising for some.
“Our mission statement is to be a top four club, both domestically and in Europe, while remaining profitable and self sustainable” he said
Stephen is a lifelong supporter of Gloucester rugby. Talking about the supporters he had this to say: “Our supporters, in my opinion are the best in the premier league. They are loyal, they are vociferous, but they know their rugby and they’ve largely stood by us this year, which is a credit to them”
Moving on to next year’s Rugby World Cup, again an honest and frank explanation of what Gloucester has planned followed. Kingsholm is a venue for games and there are lots of projects afoot, but for Kingsholm it’s all about the legacy. Stephen wants to see people who come to Kingsholm next year coming back again in the future and becoming supporters. The other aim is to get as many people as possible in Gloucestershire playing rugby or getting involved in rugby.
Stephen finally went on to explain how Gloucester are helping their players to think and prepare for that transition out of rugby into ‘civilian life’. The RPA are doing a great job and Gloucester are adding to that by working with them. They are setting up a project to involve their players more closely with the diverse variety of businesses involved in supporting Gloucester Rugby.
To find our what’s going on at Gloucester Rugby visit their website.
The evening was rounded off by the raffle draws. The first for Rugby For Heroes with the prizes being presented by Thinus Delport, captain of the Rugby For Heroes team. All funds raised went straight to the charity.
In addition the Mercedes-Benz team also kindly donated the use of an SLK for a weekend. That was won by Shaun Pegler of Randall & Payne Accountants.
The next Rugby Business Network event is on 20th March in Bristol at the Bristol & Bath Science Park – details will be published on Eventbrite soon.
See the full video below