The lifespan of a rugby player – whatever level you play at – is finite. Whether you are hanging up your boots altogether, transitioning to semi-professional, facilitating it as a hobby, a career post-rugby or to run alongside it, is crucial.

At Community Group, we are experienced in facilitating individuals who are either still playing or recently retired with the opportunity to harness a passion for supporting others in their community and build a career away from the rugby field.

Clarkson McLeod joined the company in October 2021 as our Rugby Development Manager at Stourbridge Rugby. Having already pursued an off-field career before his appointment at Community Group, we spoke to him about his progression.

The Story of Clarkson McLeod

Like most rugby playing children growing up in New Zealand, Clarkson’s dream was to become an All Black. The iconic jersey, the legendary players, arguably the most recognisable team in World Rugby – why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that.

However, only an elite group become an All Black.

“When I started to take it seriously, I realised the sheer amount of people that play rugby in New Zealand,” said Clarkson.

“The chances of making it that far are pretty slim, but when I was 15/16 I still wanted to try to give it a good crack and become professional.

“Around that time, I had careers people in school and they were saying that I needed a plan B. Two world cup-winning All Blacks then came in and said you really need a fall-back option – you could get injured and you could never play again.”

The Back-Up Plan

Plan B became teaching and Clarkson studied for a Bachelor of Education from the University of Auckland, before moving to England and achieving a Master of Arts in Education from Durham University.

He then became a Supply Teacher in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Durham areas, but it became obvious to him that it was not quite what he wanted and his passion for rugby opened another door.

“A lot of people say to me, having a teaching degree and a masters in education, do you not feel like you have wasted what you have studied for, but teaching wasn’t for me,” said Clarkson.

“I was not suited to being restricted to a classroom, so the job I have got now is the perfect balance.

“I get to play rugby and a lot of my job is centred around rugby. I’m still getting that further engagement through mentoring where I still need to work with the older kids and help them with their futures. If I had been told ten years ago that this was what I would be doing I would have been pretty happy with that.”

Passion For Rugby

Clarkson plays in the front row for Stourbridge and it is evident from his role with Community Group where his passion lies and he is ambitious with it too.

He said: “At some point, I would like to be a DoR at a club or school, but that’s probably ten years down the line or longer. At the moment, I just want to keep doing what I have been doing, and take on more responsibility and see how I can progress. I love working with Community Group.

“I’m learning a lot along the way, picking off Chad Thorne (Head of Community at Stourbridge Rugby) and other coaches, learning different strategies I can use. I certainly feel like I have added a few more strings to my bow.”

Community Group specialise in aiding the enrichment, well-being and health of our communities through wide-ranging and exceptional opportunities. If you would like to know more about Community Group, please click HERE.