Alumni Member Harry Robinson taking the next step in his career transition
After sustaining a career-ending injury at just 23 years old, many players would be left struggling to adjust to the dramatic change in emotional, mental and physical lifestyle changes no longer playing rugby professionally brings. ”.
Harry Robinson, who was known for his tenacity and creativity on the field has shown true willpower and determination in achieving a highly successful transition from rugby into a bright and promising profession.
At 23, Harry sustained a spinal cord injury which cut short his already impressive rugby career. Speaking at an interview with the WRU, Harry commented "I look back on my playing career and feel immensely proud of what I've done - playing for your country once is a huge accolade and no-one can ever take that away from you so I look back and I'm really content with my career even though it was cut short."
"It was tough to come to terms with the end of my playing career but honestly, within the first couple of hours I was thinking 'you're lucky to be where you are' - it sounds strange but I'd already had about seven years of playing rugby and achieved quite a lot in that time frame." Fortunately, Robinson's dramatic change of circumstances didn't catch him totally by surprise.
"I was already thinking one step ahead when I was playing what I wanted to do after rugby but I thought I would have six months of rehab and give it everything I had and fingers crossed it will come right. But very quickly I realised that with the damage done to my spinal chord, my physical attributes were shot - so I knew I had to get certain plans in place."
Robinson puts his successful transition down to being proactive in starting to establish a post rugby career for himself while playing; ultimately landing him in an advantageous position when the unfortunate injury occurred. Whilst playing, Harry completed his CeMAP (Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice) exams, whilst also completing his diploma in financial planning with FTSE 100 company St James' Place Wealth Management. Since graduating, Harry has set up his own practice Harry Robinson Wealth Management - dealing with mortgages, protection, pensions and investments, in conjunction with St James' Place.
"I would simply say to any player, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Definitely not, even if you sign a professional contract. Even if it is one day a week at night college, self-learning, just find something you are passionate about and pursue it. You never know when your playing career is going to end and you never think it is going to happen to you”.
WRPA AGM 2017
April 2017, saw the WRPA host their AGM with over one hundred professional rugby players from all four regions join to discuss the future of the association. ”.
Topics such as player welfare, governance and the personal development programming were at the forefront of discussions. Members also decided on the formation of a new charity to support players in time of hardship and career transition. Players nominated Rhys Patchell (Scarlets), Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues), Lloyd Ashley(Ospreys) and Lewis Evens (Dragons) to be the trustees of “2 nd Half". The WRPA were also pleased to be joined by alumni member and ex Wales Scarlets and Cardiff Blues player Harry Robinson. Harry, was interviewed by CEO, Andries Pretorius and shared an insight into the reality of sustaining a career ending injury at a young age, the process of transition into post-rugby career. This initiative to engage with a former player was exceptionally well received by the players on the night and will form a part of the newly established personal development program for the 2017/18 season.
Following the conclusion of the evening Chairman Ken Owens commented that “It was pride for me firstly. To see three quarters of all the players in Wales in one room gives the WRPA a massive mandate and support going forward. It was also great to see new boys putting their hands up and being selected to become trustees and to join the executive committee in driving the WRPA forward and supporting our own”.
WRPA appoint new CEO
In March 2017, following the approval of the Executive Committee Andries Pretorius was appointed as full-time chief executive officer of the WRPA. Andries came through the Blues academy in 2009/10 and played for the Blues for 5 seasons and was appointed Club Captain in 2012. During his playing career he was part of the 2013 6 Nations squad and gained two caps during the summer tour that year.
Andries brings not only a playing background but extensive academic qualifications and work experience which he completed whilst playing. After his undergraduate degree in Sport Business Management he completed a Masters Degree in Business Psychology through South Wales University where he specialised in employee wellbeing, change management and organisational psychology.
Speaking about his appointment Pretorius said: “While I am under no illusion that the WRPA faces significant challenges in becoming a world class association, I do believe that collectively we can make significant strides towards achieving that goal. It is imperative that we continue to keep the players and their welfare at the centre of our attention and to build strong relationships with the WRU and the regions. It is only with this collective effort to promote player welfare that the WRPA will be successful in its purpose of Representing, Developing, Promoting and Protecting professional rugby players in Wales”.