Beyond the Pitch: Rugby Players Who Achieved Success After Retirement

Rugby, a sport characterized by its physicality, teamwork, and dedication, has produced countless athletes who have excelled on the field. However, what sets some rugby players apart is their ability to channel the same dedication and work ethic into successful endeavors after hanging up their boots. In this article, we will explore the inspiring stories of rugby players who transitioned to successful careers after retirement, demonstrating that their determination and leadership extend far beyond the pitch.

  1. John Smit: From Captain to CEO

John Smit, the former captain of the South African Springboks, achieved numerous accolades during his playing career, including leading the Springboks to victory in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. After retiring from rugby, Smit transitioned into a successful career in sports administration and management. He served as the CEO of the Sharks, a prominent South African rugby team, and later took on the role of CEO of World Rugby. Smit’s leadership skills and strategic vision have made him a respected figure in the world of rugby administration.

  1. Gareth Thomas: Advocacy and Breaking Barriers

Gareth Thomas, a Welsh rugby legend and former captain of the national team, made headlines in 2009 when he came out as gay, becoming one of the first openly gay professional rugby players. After retiring from the sport, Thomas dedicated himself to advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and mental health awareness. His courage in sharing his story and advocating for inclusivity in rugby has made him an inspirational figure beyond the pitch.

  1. Martin Johnson: Transitioning into Coaching

Martin Johnson, the iconic English rugby player who captained the England national team to World Cup victory in 2003, made a successful transition into coaching after his playing career. He took charge of the England national team and later coached the British and Irish Lions. Johnson’s deep understanding of the game and leadership skills have allowed him to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of rugby players.

  1. Matt Giteau: Expanding Business Horizons

Matt Giteau, the Australian rugby union star, demonstrated his versatility off the field as well. After retiring from international rugby, Giteau ventured into business and co-founded an innovative sports technology company called ‘vayyu.’ This venture showcases how rugby players can leverage their experiences and insights gained from the sport to succeed in the business world.

  1. Jamie Heaslip: Thriving in Entrepreneurship

Jamie Heaslip, the former Irish rugby international and British and Irish Lion, embarked on a successful entrepreneurial journey after retiring from the sport. He co-founded Flender, a peer-to-peer lending platform, and other ventures. Heaslip’s ability to adapt to new challenges and create successful businesses illustrates the resilience and determination ingrained in rugby players.

  1. Richie McCaw: Pursuing Aviation

Richie McCaw, the legendary former captain of the New Zealand All Blacks, is not only known for his rugby achievements but also his passion for aviation. After retirement, McCaw pursued a career in aviation, becoming a helicopter pilot. His transition showcases how rugby players can excel in entirely different domains by pursuing their interests with the same dedication and discipline that made them successful on the field.


Rugby players who achieve success after retirement exemplify the values and qualities that the sport instills: teamwork, leadership, discipline, and determination. Whether they transition into sports administration, advocacy, coaching, entrepreneurship, or entirely new fields, these former athletes continue to make a positive impact on society and inspire others to pursue their passions and dreams. Their stories serve as a testament to the enduring legacy of rugby and the remarkable individuals it produces, both on and off the pitch.

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