8 Oct2015

MENTORING: Andy Newman shares his Mentoring Programme experience with Alex Morris, partner at Finaqncial Relationships LLP

I was 19 years old and studying mathematics in Nottingham when I was offered the opportunity to play full time professional rugby for Northampton Saints.

It was 1997 and professional rugby was in its earliest stages. The PRA was only newly formed and was not the organisation it is now. Rugby had always been a hobby of mine and had never been in my thoughts as a career choice but at 19 and with my life ahead of me I put my studies on hold and jumped at the chance. 14 years of playing professionally, having won the Heineken cup, Magners league, having played in England, Wales, Scotland and France, I am a 33 year old part time rugby player with London Scottish recently promoted to the championship.

With my rugby career coming to its natural conclusion I was playing in France with Grenoble and with offers on the table to continue playing over there, I made a decision to return to the UK at a slightly lower level and with less time commitments with a view to looking at the next stage of my working life. London seemed to me the place to go to open doors and find something that would fit with me, London Scottish was the perfect club to facilitate this transition period.

It was when I arrived in London that I was first introduced to RUINN, it was by my former agent Mark Spores of Big Red Management. I was told that it was an excellent opportunity to meet other players in a similar situation to myself along with contacts in various fields of business.

Having attended a few of the events and having met many good people it became very clear to me that there is an exciting future for rugby players post playing days. One of the men who has really helped this was introduced to me through a mutual friend Mark Soden was Alex Morris who is a partner of a company called Financial Relationships.

Rugby after 15 years or more of professional rugby has moved on greatly and many of the players understand that they must have one eye on their next career long before it has finished. I was among a group of players who for the first time were finishing rugby that had never had a career path prior to the game. It has been a very worrying time and the big wide world of business seems a long way from the training paddock or weights room.

Alex Morris agreed to meet me for a coffee and have a chat with a view to helping me out if he could at all. We got on like a house on fire and he opened my eyes to the possibilities and also the positive aspects of experiences and qualities that translate from professional rugby into the business world. After our initial meeting he agreed that he would mentor me and allow me to follow him for a few days, sit in on meetings and get a real feel of what it is that he does first hand whilst also meeting his clients.

I am so grateful to RUINN and Alex for this chance, the meetings that I have sat and contributed to have shown me the possibilities for someone in my position. During these meetings I have seen accountants, business relationship managers, financial advisors and sports agents all interacting and working together. As a result of these meetings I have been offered the chance to spend some days of work experience in some fantastic companies. This has all come about due to RUINN and Alex Morris but also the premise of rugby as a family network. There is a code involved in rugby that has a value in the workplace, it is built round teamwork, trust and hard work. These are things that any company would look for as qualities in any of its employees and the rugby world has that in abundance.

As a result I am very close to finalising exactly what it is that I will choose as career, as opposed to a job, something that Alex was very clear upon during our talks. I would advise anyone, on both sides, to be a part of this wonderful organisation. It has opened doors and afforded me the chance to meet some great people that otherwise would have been shut to me.