The Classic Wallabies and the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) are proud to announce a formal partnership, signalling a strengthening in the alumni network as both parties work collaboratively to engage and assist past players with their transition into life post-playing.
RUPA will be an Official Rugby Partner of the Classic Wallabies, and have invested funds which will directly support the newly created role of Classic Wallabies Career & Pathways Manager.
This role and initiative, majority funded by the Classic Wallabies and Rugby Australia, will be filled by Wallaby, and former Queensland Reds and Western Force Player Development Manager (PDM), James Holbeck.
The role is tasked with assisting current Wallaby players with work placements, as well as providing ongoing mental health support for Wallaby players. As part of the role, James will regularly tour with the Wallabies and Classic Wallabies and provide on the ground assistance for players and staff from both setups.
RUPA will also provide communications support for the Classic Wallabies, supplementing their limited resource in that space, as well as working together to continue to develop events and opportunities designed to compliment the existing programs already in place within each setup, including the RUPA Players Alumni.
RUPA Chief Executive Ross Xenos said he was excited about working more closely with the Classic Wallabies.
“The re-energisation and modernisation of the Classic Wallabies in recent years has been exciting to watch, and it’s really clear that Stephen Hoiles and the Classics Board are determined to create a significant legacy for the game in Australia, not just former Wallabies,” Xenos said.
“With such a large crossover between the Classics and former RUPA members, it’s important that we collaborate and pool our resources to achieve greater outcomes. Rugby needs greater alignment across the entire sport and this is just one small step towards achieving that in player wellbeing and development space.
“We’re really excited by the Classics commitment and resourcing of player pathways and we will work closely with James to build on the work being done by the RUPA Player Development Program.”
Classic Wallabies General Manager Stephen Hoiles stressed how important Partnerships like this are in helping Australian Rugby to blossom.
“It’s a really positive step for both the Classic Wallabies and RUPA to be working together,” Hoiles said. “In general, the more that we can have different organisations with Australian Rugby collaborating, the better the outcome for everybody involved.
“The support from RUPA helps in allowing us to have greater resources to assist players, both here and overseas, to prepare for life after playing Rugby. We’ve seen some significant challenges in that space within the professional game, and it is something we take very seriously and want to improve. We need to ensure our players get the best opportunity to live a better life once they hang up the boots.
“To be able to bring aboard an individual like Jimmy Holbeck, who has a huge amount of experience in this space, is fantastic for the Classic Wallabies.
"Having Jimmy helping players within Michael Cheika’s Wallaby squad with planning and take action towards their next step, in many cases years before their actual retirement, is critical. Players prioritising and finding time to do this and gain practical experience will be making sure that when they do retire, it’s not as big of an adjustment or shock as those who aren’t adequately prepared.”
The Classic Wallabies provide a support network for past players, foster and develop Rugby throughout the country and are custodians of the values and traditions of the game, while RUPA represents the professional, industrial and employment interests of the professional Rugby players in Australia.
The RUPA Player Alumni, coordinated by RUPA Player Relations Manager and former professional player Patrick Phibbs, engages with all current and past professional players through unique events, workshops and communications.