With books like Clive Woodward's ‘How to Win' and ‘Legacy' by James Kerr flying off the shelves, the line between professional rugby and good business is growing clearer every year.

Rugby players, coaches and management operate to the highest standards and experience rare levels of pressure. So, it is no surprise that those who are successful in rugby go on to be successful in business.

Modern businesses have always seen the benefit of the knowledge that rugby stars hold, with a long history of invitations as after dinner and motivational speakers. But in more recent years many of these stars have shown that their skill set reaches far beyond speeches and are starting businesses ranging from career and professional development to selling craft lager.

In this article, we explore some key areas where ex-rugby professionals are thriving in the world of business.

Professional Development

Those who play or lead high-level rugby teams don't find themselves in that position by accident. It takes years of dedication and self-reflection to earn your place at the rugby elite table.

Personal and professional development is a key part of rugby and an area that can be replicated with great success in the business world.

One good example of this in practice is Clive Woodward's involvements in the Hive Learning platform. Clive has worked to create a platform that doesn't simply rely on his own expertise in rugby and business but provides businesses with the tools they need to generate peer-to-peer learning experiences.

Andy and Steve Moore have also seen some great success in this space with their company Athlete Career Transition, helping ex-athletes understand their options and plan their future career once their athletic career is over.

Organisational Consultancy

If you compare the organisational structure of a world-class rugby team and a world-class business you will see many similarities. Strong leadership, a clear sense of purpose and each team member knowing their role as part of the organisation as a whole.

This correlation is clear at the highest level with Eddie Jones' appointment as a board member at Goldman Sachs. It is reported that Eddie was invited to join the advisory board to offer advice on business and regulatory issues.

Ex Irish international Bob Casey is another example, being Managing Director of organisational consulting firm Korn Ferry. In this role, Bob supports businesses to design their organisational structures, roles and responsibilities.


Spending time in the limelight offers ex-rugby players the opportunity to leverage their following to promote product-based businesses. Also, these businesses are often linked closely to their careers and the culture surrounding rugby.

Wolfpack Lager 

Two good examples of this are Alistair Hargreaves' and Chris Wyles' company Wolf Pack Lager and Tommy Bowe's XV Kings clothing company.

Wolfpack Lager 

Fitness and Activity Providers

It is no major surprise that many leading sportsmen go on to start and run businesses within the sports and activity space. Having lived the life of a world-class athlete, ex-rugby players know a thing or two about how to keep active and staying fit and healthy.

Former Ulster, Ireland and Lions player Stephen Ferris started sports activity provider Ferroristy Limited and Gordan Darcy opened Form School with his wife Aoife Cogan, a bespoke Reformer Pilates school.

Business After Rugby

Business and rugby are intrinsically linked. Although reaching the top levels of rugby is no guarantee of business success, the skills, habits and culture of successful rugby professionals fit perfectly with those of successful business people.

In this article, we have mentioned just a handful of areas that rugby stars have broken into during or after their rugby careers have come to an end. But ultimately there are countless other examples of

rugby professionals setting up and running successful businesses from car sales and insurance to investment management and business clubs.