Athlete Stories: Clyde Rathbone (Rugby Union)

Athlete Stories: Clyde Rathbone (Rugby Union)

Intro:

Clyde Rathbone is a former rugby union player, who played for the Wallabies internationally, and the Brumbies in Super Rugby.

Born in South Africa and captaining the Junior Springboks to a World title in 2002, Clyde moved to Canberra in 2003 and made his Brumbies debut the year after, catapulting later that season into the national team. He played 26 times for the Wallabies over 3 seasons but retired from rugby in 2009 due to a spate of injuries. However, he returned to the sport in 2013 after being offered a contract with his beloved Brumbies. He went on to play another season, before retiring for the second time in 2014.

He co-founded a tech start-up, Karma, in late 2014 and still resides in Canberra.

What led you to make the decision to retire?

It was a combination of needing a new challenge and a sense that I wouldn’t have the motivation for the grind of training. I became a professional rugby player straight out of high school back in 1999, and while I loved being a pro athlete I knew the time was right to move on in 2014.

My interests had wandered away from rugby and sport in general, and I was conscious of leaving the sport with a body that would allow the kind of physical lifestyle I enjoy.

What skills did you learn from your sport that have transferred to your post-sporting career?

Learning to overcome challenges stands out. I had a career peppered with numerous injuries and I think they taught me a lot. Over time I came to view each of the injury setbacks I endured as a useful way to gain a sense of perspective about what really matters in life.

In my new career as a technology entrepreneur, I think it’s equally important to connect with one’s core motivations and the ‘why’ of the mission.

Clyde is the co-founder of Karma, alongside his brother, Dayne (left), and Monish Parajuli (right)
Clyde is the co-founder of Karma, alongside his brother, Dayne (left), and Monish Parajuli (right)

What has worked best for you during your retirement and what's had the biggest positive effect on your life? And what have you found most difficult about retirement?

Finding challenging work that aligns with my values has been extremely important, as has being able to work with like-minded people on a project bigger than any one of us. Even though it requires a lot of self-discipline, working for myself has been a real pleasure and something I can’t see myself giving up anytime soon. The most difficult aspect of retiring has been trying to find a replacement for adrenalin-fuelled physical competition.

At what stage during their sporting career do you think athletes should start preparing for life after sport? Do you think it is possible to build an identity outside of sport whilst you're still playing? If so, how?

I can’t think of any reason why athletes shouldn’t start thinking about their life after sport from the very beginning of their career. A sporting career, even an unusually long one is still a relatively short period of one’s life, so it’s vital to think about the kind of life you want after retiring from sport.

It’s extremely unhealthy to build an identity based entirely on athletic performance. I believe athletes can avoid this by having diverse interests outside of sport that challenges them to think differently.

Sprinting away from English defenders on his way to a hat-trick of tries in 2004, in only his 3rd Test match
Sprinting away from English defenders on his way to a hat-trick of tries in 2004, in only his 3rd Test match
In action for the Brumbies in 2013, having made a comeback after a 4-year absence
In action for the Brumbies in 2013, having made a comeback after a 4-year absence

How important is it to you to invest in finding the right career path, one that suits you and one you're excited about?

I think it’s vital to look forward to the next phase of life after one has retired. And this is largely tied to what lies in front of you when you retire from sport. Going out into the world while you’re still playing and learning from the kinds of people already doing things that interest you, can be tremendously rewarding in the long run.

What are the challenges facing the current generation of players that you didn't necessarily have to face?

Social media has had a huge impact on professional athletes. So much of their lives are now out in the open and I think this can expose young people to challenges they may not be mature enough to handle. I try and encourage athletes to view Social Media as a tool that requires a lot of discipline to use properly. Ultimately what really matters is meaningful human connection – and the truth is that traditional social media offers us very little of this.

Rob Flude

Rob is the Head of Digital & Communications for The Final Whistle. Born and bred in Cape Town, he has called London and Melbourne home and also travelled to 42 countries. He has a background in IT Projects and in Sports Media.
Interests: self-improvement, sport, health & well-being, eCommerce, travelling, reading, craft beer, social enterprises, writing, human behaviour.
First article: February 2016

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