The former Wales international preaches financial savviness to young stars
Too Much, Too Soon: Harry Robinson on preparing for the future
In Rugby World‘s new long-read, ‘Too Much, Too Soon’, Quade Cooper says of first bursting onto the elite scene: “I learnt the hard way. I’d spend all my money, pay cheque to pay cheque, every cent, because I knew it would fill back up.”
Money management. It’s a subject that can be on many players’ minds. And according to former Wales international Harry Robinson, who had to retire at 23 following a serious neck injury, there are steps you can take to safeguard your future.
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“My first bit of advice would be to enjoy your money,” says Robinson, who is now in wealth management and advises some players. “You are in an extremely privileged place. Not many 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds are going to be on that money. That’s the time where you are going on holiday with your mates, having a laugh.
“Then even before I was 20 I went, ‘Right, I’m going to buy my first house’. So second, I’d say getting on that property ladder is absolutely crucial.
“Third is understanding that this can end at any time. So you should have a safety blanket there, in cash or investments. I was lucky to not have to sell my house or go for a loan or go to my parents for money. You should have cash easily available should anything happen.
“Ask ‘What are my outgoings?’ If they are, say two grand a month, living frugally, you’ll need £24k to get you through a year of retraining, if I was to finish. And then there’s thinking about longer term. This part of your life could be when you make the largest amount of money, potentially, so it’s making sure you take surplus income from now and putting it somewhere you might need it in the future.”
He mentions putting money into a pension, saving money on tax now, growing a nest egg. Which means his checklist goes: enjoyment, property, emergency fund, and then being smart with surplus income now.
Oversimplifying, if you budget for your mortgage, council tax, bills and insurance, then you can save X amount of thousands to put in your pot for after rugby. Whatever is left can help with holidays, splurges and other fun asides.
As he surmises: “You can enjoy your money and be sensible at the same time.”
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The end of his career was borne from a collision against Edinburgh, which caused two discs to slip into his spinal cord. He was incredibly lucky “to be alive, let alone walking”, according to the experts who saw him.
Yet despite trying to come back after surgery, he was not the same athlete. His previous 40m sprint time was 4.62secs, but when he came back he could not break 5secs. As a winger, he knew the writing was on the wall.
He is happy with how his life has panned out away from the field, though, saying he is in “a very, very good place” with his career and the client bank he is building.
He is also full of praise for the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association for the work they do with workshops and contacts. He encourages young players to seriously consider future careers.
Signing that first contract is exciting he says, and money should be enjoyed. He also appreciates that many older players are good at giving advice (“go speak to an accountant or financial advisor” etc). But don’t put off thinking ahead. The game doesn’t last forever.
You can read our original special report – Too Much, Too Soon – in the current issue of Rugby World magazine.
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