There is a scene in the film ‘About a Boy’ the 2002 comedy drama, when the Hugh Grant character replies ‘nothing’ – when asked by a new girlfriend over dinner what he did? Non-plussed, she re-phrased and asked ‘…but you must do something’, ‘nope’ was his reply.
That film character might be the exception perhaps –as most of us ‘do something’. Until the dawn of professional rugby in 1995, everyone playing had day jobs –everyone was an amateur –playing for the love of the game. (Hugh Grant by the way, played in the 1st XV for his school Latymer Upper, London).
Even today out of an estimated 227, 000 senior male players in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, less than 1% are full time professionals. So the majority still have day jobs.
The following is an ‘eclectic clubhouse gathering’ composed of post-war internationals, from the amateur era to the dawn of professionalism. They reveal an amazing array of day jobs and interests, ranging from fashion model and artist to farmer and businessmen, not to mention some doctors, a self-made millionaire and a soldier. Many of them rightly feature on the ‘Wall of Fame’ at the World Rugby Museum in Twickenham.
In Part 1 we look at English days jobs, followed in Part 2 by Irish & Welsh, and finally Scottish and French day jobs in part 3.
Richard Sharp, [1960-67, 14 caps], played at centre, and toured with the British Lions in 1962. He played for Cornwall, Redruth, Wasps, and Bristol. Perhaps his finest performance came in 1963*, the year Britain was snowbound for several months. England won the Calcutta Cup and the Five Nations after their quicksilver fly-half and captain scored probably the most elegant 40-yard try ever seen at Twickenham. England came from behind to win. As one popular confectionery poster advertisement of the time was wittily altered “Sharps’ the word for toffee England”.
He was educated at Blundell’s School and Balliol College, Oxford. During his national service years, he served in the Royal Marines. Later he taught geography at Sherborne School Dorset and after retirement worked in the Cornish china clay industry. He lives in St Ives.
His name was also the inspiration for writer Bernard Cornwell for the fictional character, Rifleman Richard Sharpe that featured in his Napoleonic War novels. They were adapted into a series of Sharpe television films in the 1990’s.
* British Pathe clip of England v Scotland match Twickenham 1963
David Duckham, [1969-76, 39 caps], played at centre, a product of King Henry VIII Grammar school, known as the ‘golden boy’ of English rugby long before Jonny Wilkinson was even born! The Coventry RFC player appears in nearly everyone’s ‘dream XV’ with his style of rugby – real panache, side-steps, dropped shoulders will always be remembered as one of the true greats of the game. He made his debut against Ireland in 1969 at centre alongside John Spencer in a partnership that was only bettered,
more than two decades later, by Will Carling and Jeremy Guscott. He had work at Barclay Bank, and in marketing & PR with the building industry. After rugby he set up his own hospitality company. In the early 1990’s he was director of marketing at Bloxham School in Oxfordshire, and later in 1995 with his wife Jean created ‘Southern Sporting Clubs’. It’s a commercial network enterprise run from their Warwickshire base, utilising sporting celebrities and professional guest speakers across southern England. He was awarded the MBE for services to rugby.
Bill Beaumont, [1975-1982, 41 caps], played at lock, for Fylde RFC in Lancashire, and captained England on 21 occasions -most famously leading them to the 1980 Five Nations Grand Slam, their first clean sweep since 1957. He famously quipped after an incident during the England v Australia match at Twickenham in 1982, ‘The lads say my bum is the equivalent of one ‘Erica’. Erica Roe was the busty girl who caused a stir by running topless onto the pitch during the game – a match which England won 15-11. Another comment contrasting the age old rivalry ‘forwards versus backs’, when he reflected ‘If I had been a winger, I might have been daydreaming and thinking about how to keep my kit clean for next week.’ After rugby he became another captain –this time BBC TV Question of Sport in the 1980’s. He is managing director of a successful home furnishings business Bill Beaumont Textiles in Lancashire. He was awarded an OBE in 2008 and elected chairman of the RFU in 2012.
Rory Underwood, [1984-1996, 91 caps], played on the wing, -one of the greatest wings in rugby union, and his country’s record try scorer with 49. He played for Leicester FC and the Royal Air Force, as throughout his playing career he was a serving RAF jet pilot (360 Squadron) -a speed machine on and off the pitch. He and his brother Tony (27 caps) were the first brothers to play for England together since the 1930’s. Who can forget the TV cameras at the 1993 England v Scotland game at Twickenham, focussing on an excited spectator in the crowd? ‘Mrs Underwood’ became a star overnight after television caught her dancing in the stands when her rugby-playing sons Rory and Tony both scored for England. After retiring, Rory set up a company called Teamwork with his friend John Peters a fellow motivational speaker. He is on the board of Leicester FC. He is now a partner in Wingman Ltd, a team development consultancy. What of his brother Tony? He is now a commercial pilot flying the Airbus 380 as a Senior First Officer for Emirates living in Dubai.
Jeremy Guscott, [1989-1999, 73 caps, England], played at centre, left the Ralph Allen School in Bath, taking a series of jobs, including a bricklayer, bus driver and a public relations role with British Gas, before the game turned professional. He played for Bath RFC and known for his smooth running style, Guscott was often considered one of the finest ball-players of any rugby age. Former England Coach Clive Woodward called Guscott the ‘Prince of Centres’, and Sunday Times rugby-writer Stephen Jones hails Guscott as part of his ‘dream centre combination’. In an interview he once confided ‘Deep down, most good rugby players are free-spirited.’ After rugby, he secured work as a fashion model -cashing in on his cool, laid-back image, in 2006 he became the face of Austin Reed, their chief executive commented, ‘He [JG] epitomises all the values which are inherent in the brand; integrity, professionalism, style, quality and British heritage’. He works full-time for the BBC as a pundit, writes a regular column for The Sunday Times and is a partner in a leading property service management company in Bath. He was awarded an MBE for services to Rugby Union.
Photo: Duckham, http://www.espn.co.uk/england/rugby/image/89068.html