By Katie Field, Rugby World writer
RYAN WALKINSHAW is younger and slicker than your average Aviva Premiership chairman but don’t be fooled into thinking he is frivolous or in any way naïve. The 24-year-old Gloucester boss is actually a deep thinker with a wider agenda than rugby and his other sporting business interest, motor racing.
Walkinshaw is passionate about physics and taught himself astronomy, cosmology and particle physics after dropping out of his business degree in Newcastle. “I read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time when I was about 17 and it blew my mind. At school I had thought physics was a bit geeky and not really up my alley but I read that book out of interest one summer and it changed my outlook,” he says.
“Most of what I want to do with the money I earn from business is invest in scientific research – space projects. A lot of private firms are involved in that now because governments are not putting the money in anymore.”
Walkinshaw is particularly interested in the impact science can have on solving the world’s energy problems.
“I have learned a huge amount about nuclear fusion and I believe that’s the way forward if we are going to power our planet without destroying it. Renewable energy sources we are using and looking into now are only half the picture.
“At the moment in this country we spend more money every year on buying novelty ring-tones for our phones than we do on nuclear fusion research.”
So, while his immediate priority is ensuring Gloucester win some major rugby silverware in the next few years, he has one eye on a much bigger picture, and it can’t be a bad thing for the Kingsholm club to have someone like that at the helm. “I want to have a direct impact on changing the world for the better,” he says. “I genuinely believe if you are not dreaming about tomorrow you are never going to get there.”