National law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, has announced it is sponsoring the prestigious Rugby Players’ Association’s Personal Development Programme Award.
The 20th RPA Players’ Awards 2018 in association with England Rugby takes place on 9 May, and three players have been shortlisted for the award, which is given to an individual who has shown outstanding commitment to their off-field development, expanding their knowledge, experience and contacts with a view to their next career.
The nominees, who have all taken part in the RPA Personal Development Programme, are Heather Fisher, flanker in the England Women’s Rugby 7s team; Andy Hazell, former flanker for Gloucester Rugby; and Chris Wyles, wing for Saracens.
Clarke Willmott’s Sports Sector Team head, Kevin Jones said: “We are delighted to announce this new sponsorship with the Rugby Players’ Association with whom we have developed a very strong relationship over a number of years.
“These three players are an inspiration to the sport, putting in a huge amount of work on the field alongside their teammates, and also making enormous efforts off the field in terms of their personal development beyond playing rugby.”
The award will be presented at the RPA Players’ Awards 2018, in association with England Rugby, on Wednesday 9 May at Battersea Evolution, London.
Heather Fisher, 33 was part of the England Women Rugby 7s team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and was part of the 15s squad that won the 2014 World Cup. She has also competed for Team GB in bobsleigh.
Currently studying for a Masters in Strength and Conditioning at the University of Gloucester, and co-presenting a weekly radio show, Heather, who has severe alopecia, said: “I am extremely honoured to be acknowledged for the efforts I have put in off the field. Being able to keep my brain stimulated away from rugby helps me to switch off and enables me to lay down foundations for my future.”
Andy Hazell, 40, was capped over 250 times for Gloucester and seven times for England, and in the latter stages of his rugby career learned about e-commerce and set up his business Smart Home Sounds and Inside Out Cinema.
He said: “It’s fantastic to have been nominated for the PDP award, to have support & recognition even in retirement has been a massive help especially when setting up your own business.”
Chris Wyles, age, 34, will retire from rugby at the end of the 2017-18 season, after a playing career which included 67 tries in 243 appearances for Saracens and playing at three World Cups for the USA and at the rugby sevens tournament at the 2016 Olympics.
Towards the end of his playing career, he co-founded craft beer company Wolfpack Lager with Saracens team mate Alistair Hargreaves. “Setting up a business whilst continuing to play rugby has been a tough but rewarding experience,” he said. “Both Al and I have relied hugely on the support of others including the RPA and so to be nominated for this award is a special moment.”
The Rugby Players’ Association was founded in 1998 by former Wasps and England player Damian Hopley who was forced to retire through injury at the age of 26 and identified the need for a collective body to represent professional players’ interests.
Clarke Willmott LLP is a national law firm with seven offices across the country, including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.