Frape of­fers help to those at ‘vul­ner­a­ble time’ in life

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Kate Rowan

Former Glouces­ter flanker Josh Frape, whose ca­reer was ended at 25 by a knee in­jury, is a man on a mis­sion. Hav­ing worked for the Rugby Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion for al­most a decade, he has now stepped into pos­si­bly his most chal­leng­ing role, as tran­si­tion man­ager.

The po­si­tion was cre­ated as the RPA re­acted to the sur­vey which showed 62 per cent of play­ers had ex­pe­ri­enced men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties since re­tir­ing.

“To look at the statis­tics raises a few alarm bells and it told us as an as­so­ci­a­tion that we need to be con­cen­trat­ing on it,” Frape said.

“Tran­si­tion is a very vul­ner­a­ble time. Play­ers leave an en­vi­ron­ment where they are com­fort­able, where they know that they have team­mates and coaches around them that sup­port them ev­ery week.”

The as­so­ci­a­tion em­ploys eight full-time per­sonal devel­op­ment man­agers, who help cur­rent play­ers with is­sues such as ed­u­ca­tion op­tions and coun­selling. But there has never be­fore been a role ded­i­cated to help­ing those plan­ning re­tire­ment or al­ready re­tired.

Frape knows the task is daunt­ing and ad­mits the stark re­al­ity that young play­ers also have to start think­ing about the tran­si­tion to life after rugby, such are the high at­tri­tion rates due to in­jury.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate that every­one should think about tran­si­tion as soon as they have their first con­tract, as you never know how long it is go­ing to last. The play­ers need to think about it.”

As well as meet­ing play­ers to whom he is al­ready of­fer­ing guid­ance, Frape vis­its each Premier­ship club, pitch­ing his ser­vices specif­i­cally to play­ers whose age pro­file sug­gests they may be due to re­tire.

“I am get­ting around the clubs and speak­ing to guys who are about 28-plus,” Frape said. He is firm, though, that the onus is also on the play­ers to look beyond the bub­ble of pro­fes­sional sport in or­der to make sure that their gen­er­a­tion are not plagued with the same is­sues as their pre­de­ces­sors.

“Un­less the play­ers pop their heads from out of the pit and have a look at what is go­ing on around them, and learn about what op­tions they have for their next ca­reer, they don’t re­ally know,” he said.

“My role is re­ally to help those guys, guide them and to make sure the tran­si­tion for them is as smooth as pos­si­ble. ”

Tough tran­si­tion: Josh Frape says play­ers need to start plan­ning for re­tire­ment

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