A professional Rugby career being cut short by an injury is part of the game and former Wallabies prop Ben Darwin knows this from personal experience. A life threatening neck injury sustained in a scrum against New Zealand during the semi-finals of the 2003 Rugby World Cup forced Ben into early retirement. It however was only 2 years after the incident that reality hit Ben that his international playing days were over and moving on was a challenge.
Ben made the obvious decision to transition into coaching, where he was part of Australia’s Super Rugby franchise teams the Western Force and the Rebels and had coaching stints in Japan. Ben surprisingly admits that he was not ready to coach at that level and in retrospect “should have taken a longer apprenticeship” before jumping into coaching.
After being let go as coach at Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath, it forced Ben once again to reevaluate his life and a career in sports data analysis sparked an interest, which led to the creation of Gain Line Analytics.
Ben is the Director at the operations and management consultancy founded in 2013, which has a unique perspective on success in professional sports. Gain Line not only works with Rugby teams, but also has clients in Soccer, AFL, Ice Hockey and generally any sport that uses teamwork. Interestingly Ben says Gain Line uses data from NASA, Harvard Business School and Armies and applies it to sport.
Ben advises retiring professional Rugby players to take their time in deciding what career path to follow, as “the key is to focus on what you enjoy and you will eventually be able to build a business out of it”.
From an analytical perspective, Ben also gives his predictions for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.