We recently caught up with Dom Shabbo, whose eight year career saw him play at the highest level of English and European rugby. Since quitting the game in 2009, Dom has held roles as Commercial Director at Rosslyn Park and Tournament Director for the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens, which he took up on a full-time basis around 4 months ago.
How has working life treated you since you stopped playing?
It’s been good. I’m thoroughly enjoying my role as Commercial Director which keeps me very busy. I’m thrilled to be involved with such a fantastic club and such a prestigious tournament because it showcases some of the finest talent in the schools’ rugby calendar, with hundreds of teams now taking part.
My job encompasses many different roles, which sees me not only sourcing sponsors for the tournament and club, but also carrying out a lot of the groundwork too. It’s pretty diverse, to say the least.
The tournament now boasts some pretty impressive sponsors and partners. Every year it’s going from strength to strength, attracting more teams, sponsors and partners.
Did you have a plan when you retired from the game?
I had already set up a couple of businesses while I was still playing, which gave me a good footing for when I did eventually quit the game. I retired from professional rugby while I was still at championship level because I thought it was the best route for me to take.
I realised that my career in rugby, like many other players, was going to be pretty short-term, so when it came to dealing with year-by-year contracts at the age of 26, I decided it was time to call it a day.
I think that working in the business world while still playing taught me a lot of valuable lessons about business. It certainly helped bridge the gap between the two and proved to be a real learning experience.
Although the businesses I set up did not make a fortune, the value of the experience was priceless.
What do you think rugby taught you about yourself?
It taught me that I am the sort of person who is always willing to listen, to bring the best out of people and to make the best out of situations. It also taught me the skills used on the field are just as valuable in a business environment and how valuable teamwork can be, whether on or off the field. The support of others can really make light work of even the most difficult of situations.
What advice do you have for others?
To make the best use of their free time and to attend as many events as possible, because meeting like-minded people can open many doors in the business world. Players should try their hand at setting up a business while they are still playing, because it offers an insight into the ‘real world’.
Thinking they should have done more is a common regret amongst us former players and younger guys should take heed of that. Testing the water in a business environment helps bridge that knowledge gap and attending events helps break down barriers. It’s easily achieved because anyone interested in rugby wants to hear the stories, old and new.
What’s the future looking like?
It’s an exciting time for the world of rugby in every respect, whether at premiership level or further down the leagues. I am very proud of the work I do and my involvement with Rosslyn Park and the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens tournament. It’s brilliant to be right there, watching very talented and skilled young players on the rugby pitch and it’s a role I hope to be doing for a long time to come.