It may feel like fairytale stuff but stars of rugby union could become heroes in the world of WWE, if they are willing to take the risk. We chart the path…

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Rugby to Wrestling – A special feature

In the new new Rugby World we have an eight-page special report on the pathway available to elite male and female rugby players who are interested in pursuing a change and taking on the life of a professional wrestler.

In the deep-dive, we feature exclusive interviews with WWE legend Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque (WWE’s executive vice-president for global talent strategy and development) as well as Canyon Ceman, who looks after talente development, and former professional rugby league player Luke Menzies, who performs on WWE’s NXT brand under the ring name ‘Ridge Holland.’

We also get the views of former England and Lions prop Alex Corbisiero, a wrestling afficionado, and current Gloucester tighthead Jamal Ford-Robinson, who entered the ring when he was a younger man. Check out his video below.

In the piece, Ceman makes clear that WWE is not setting out to poach the biggest names in rugby – though the door is always open to the top men and women if they want to talk. Instead, they want to unearth the talents who, in their mid to late 20s, have fallen out of love with the game, who find themselves at a crossroads or have a deep love of wrestling they want to explore. There is a pathway already there which you can apply for via the WWE Perormance Center.

“I want it to be clear: there’s definitely an open door,” Ceman says in our exclusive feature.

“If I get a world-class or national-class rugby athlete that looks the part, there’s a very good chance they’re going to get to try out. Because we want to see if they have it. Second, the work ethic and toughness that they might take for granted, that is just part of the rugby culture, is exactly what we’re looking for.

“So they should feel confident coming into the room with what they bring to the table naturally, from living the life they’ve led, of getting their body ready, getting their mind right, of being a part of a team. That matters to us. We value it highly.”

We also explore what rugby and its marketers can learn from wrestling, and also the value of personalities shining through. As Triple H adds of embracing the drama of all sport, “Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader – which one would you rather be? There is an attraction to being the bad guy.”

Read the full feature in the February 2021 issue of Rugby World.

If you live outside of the UK, we have a digital January Sale offer until 18 Jan 2021: 12 issues for $12/€12.

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