Thanks to our friends at Rugby World Cup 2015 Official Hospitality, we had a chat with England’s World Cup winning centre, ex-Lion, Tiger and Quin, Will Greenwood.
Was becoming a professional rugby player an easy choice for you?
Not initially. My path into rugby was very different from the typical journey of today’s players. I was 25 when rugby went professional, I’d graduated from Durham with an economics degree and was working in the City as a futures trader. It was a real decision to make, as no one could be sure how rugby would fare and I didn’t want to throw away a career on a whim.
How did you make the decision?
Of course I wanted to play rugby, but it had to be a sensible option too. In the end I sat down with my dad, went through the numbers and agreed I’d play rugby if the figures offered made sense. They did, just, so that was that.
Did you try to keep a foot in the door, business wise?
I did at first, but I really hit the ground running with rugby and a year after turning pro I was touring with the Lions in South Africa. With so much going on, possibly combined with the fact I felt I had something to fall back on, I was pretty much completely focused on rugby for the next few years.
Were most guys in a similar situation?
The older guys had trades because they’d had to work for years, but the younger ones often had rugby as their first job. The RPA was in its infancy back then and some players leaving the sport did end up falling on hard times. Things have improved a lot, but there’s still work to be done on that front by everyone in the game.
You never returned to the City, so what do you do now when not presenting for Sky?
Alongside my roles with Sky and The Telegraph, I’m involved in several projects. I’ve been an ambassador for the 2015 Rugby World Cup since the bid stage and I’ve found the journey with such a huge commercial animal absolutely fascinating.
As you know, I also work with RWC Official Hospitality. It’s not hard for a rugby player to be passionate about a product so close to their heart, so I’m very fortunate to be able to mix work and pleasure.
What impact did winning the World Cup make on your career?
At the time it made less financial impact than you’d think, as rugby is not awash with money, but it obviously set us all up to earn more from speaking, corporate and media engagements. Obviously the journey was something we’d have done for free, as so many amateur players did before us.
I have to say that the main benefits were not direct financial ones. Things like win bonuses and sponsors’ incentives just don’t cross your mind when you’re playing. You’re out there giving it everything for the lads either side of you, who you’ve played with for years and who you’ve been through the wringer with.
I think the biggest gain for me was personal confidence. To put everything on the line and aim for something like that demands a lot of someone and failing would have been a tough blow. Achieving what we did gave me a real personal boost that has had a positive influence on so many areas of my life since, both personal and in business.
Will is an ambassador for Rugby World Cup 2015 Official Hospitality (also an RBN partner). They are the only official hospitality programme for Rugby World Cup 2015 and are offering a range of packages for businesses and individuals. Crucially, they have access to the best available tickets for the five sold-out matches at Twickenham (Eng v Wales, Eng v Aus, 2 x Semi-finals and the Final).
Click here to guarantee your seat at the biggest games in our sport.