Retirement: “Who do I turn to now?”

By International Rugby Players

As we continue our look at player development programs around the world, we speak with Daffydd Evans, Personal Development Manager with the Welsh Rugby Players Association.

There are four personal development managers spread across the four regions in Wales, and former primary school teacher Daffydd Evans is based with the Scarlets in Llanelli, one of the traditional heartlands of the sport in Wales. 

Like all player associations, the WRPA prepare their players for life after rugby and as part of that transition, Evans likes to focus on the importance of keeping healthy relationships going while playing.

“I think a lot of players can get into that zone where they become only a rugby player and they, I wouldn’t say neglect, family and friends… but I think they can maybe push them to one side, at times.

“And when the transition period out of the game comes along, and if they’ve done that, their support network doesn’t become as big when they need them and they feel (a sense of) “who do I turn to now?”

“So we try to encourage them to build those relationships; whether that’s teammates, staff, supporters, sponsors… to build those healthy relationships during your career.”

“Safety Net” 

PDMs often highlight the fact that players can find retirement a shock but that family and friends can help them get through the tough times. 

“I’ve spoken to a psychologist and he talked about a safety net”, says Evans.

“When they play, players have someone to turn to all the time, whether it’s an injury, whether that’s an off-field issue, an on-field issue…they can turn to a teammate or a captain.

“But then once they come outta that… it’s the people that really matter step up then.”

Evans says that while the focus can often be on what job they’ll end up doing, it’s just as important to think about who will be the main players in their new life, away from the game.

“I think players tend to think about future employment, how the CV looks, especially during the last year of the contract. They make sure everything’s in place, but it’s not until you speak to them that they think, ‘oh, right… my family and friends now are, more important than what the CV looks like.”

Current situation

Crisis talks meant Welsh players avoided a strike during the 2023 Six Nations tournament but massive problems have been highlighted throughout the game in Wales since then. This, Evans explains, has focused the minds for many professional players. 

“Due to unfortunate circumstances last season, players are realising that the transition can sneak up on you at any time and they are preparing accordingly. The more we can do, the more we can educate… the more we can prepare the players.

“And I think players will be in a better place to excel on the pitch if they believe that they’re in a good place off the field. And for that to happen, the long term plan has to be in place.”

For more on the PDM program and the services available to professional players in Wales, check out 

International Rugby Players

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