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