News | 30 May 2024

RPA Vodafone Business Gain Line Awards mark new phase for four rugby players

From selling luxury leather goods to running a live fire cooking school, these four professional rugby players have been recognised for their business achievements outside of the sport.

While playing a team sport like rugby can provide several mental health benefits, for those at the top of the game, leaving the playing field behind can have the opposite effect.

According to figures from the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA), more than 60% of rugby players experience mental health problems after retiring.

With many ex-players reporting both financial difficulties and a lack of control in their lives following retirement, post-career plans are an increasingly hot topic.

Vodafone Business and Welsh Rugby Players Association announce Dan Lydiate as Winner of the WRPA Vodafone Business Bursary

Vodafone Business and the Welsh Rugby Players' Association are delighted to announce that Welsh international star and fifth-generation farmer, Dan Lydiate, has been awarded the WRPA Vodafone Business Bursary.

This is one of the reasons why Vodafone and the RPA created the RPA Vodafone Business Gain Line Awards. Each year, these awards support current and former players of the game, by recognising their off-the-field business ventures and the personal development they enable.

The four 2024 winners include:

GJ Van Velze

After suffering a long-term injury in 2020, Van Velze swapped his rugby boots for Chelsea boots, co-founding a luxury footwear and leather goods business. He also owns an online business that specialises in abrasives and paint consumables.

“I strongly believe in stepping out of your comfort zone, so I chose an industry I knew nothing about. I was curious about how people could build brands that eventually became communities.”

Richard Capstick

Usually found in the back row, Exeter Chiefs’ Capstick is now no stranger to front of house, having purchased multiple pizza restaurant franchises in the southwest of England.

“A lot of the lads have started businesses on the side, or are in the process of looking into doing stuff outside of rugby. For instance, Billy Keast – a previous winner – started Cubs Coffee, so we often catch up to talk about challenges we both face and to bounce ideas off each other.”

Ethan Waller

Not content with the responsibilities of being a Northampton Saints prop, Waller has moved out of the frying pan and into the fire – literally – by setting up a live outdoor cooking classroom. This is not his first business venture, having previously qualified as both a personal trainer and financial advisor.

“All my teammates have been great supporters…The beauty of a team sport like rugby is that, if one of us succeeds in an area like this, it drives others on to do the same in their respective areas.”

Shona Campbell

At just 22, Campbell has been selected for a Scotland Women’s Six Nations squad, played netball for Scotland Under-21s, and now has an undergraduate degree from the University of Edinburgh. Better yet, her dissertation on the mental health of athletes is being put forward for publication.

“Elite sport can feel all-consuming at times, with the pressures and expectations on us as athletes. Without passions outside of rugby, it’s easy to associate your whole identity with your success or failure in the sport. But, by having interests outside of rugby, I truly believe it has made me into a better player.”

The awards were presented by Clare Ridgers, Head of Commercial Marketing for Vodafone UK, as part of the RPA Awards show on May 29, 2024.

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