Saturday 3 December 2016

Giants of men are now titans of business

Many former star rugby players make the transition from fielding high balls to tackling corporate finance and investment banks, writes Nick Webb

Published 02/10/2011 | 05:00

SO what happens when the rugby jersey starts to fit a bit too snugly and the knees begin to creak?

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The decision on a career after rugby is coming up fast for some of our top players. While many former rugby players have gone on to great things in business, the trend since the World Cup began is for former players to join investment banks or get involved in high finance.

English rugby World Cup winner Josh Lewsey was hired by Citigroup as a European equity trader at the global bank's London offices last week. He joins a number of other former star players who have made the transition from fielding high balls to being mauled by investors.

Classy French back Thomas Castaignede joined up with Societe General in 2006 after retiring from the game. He later moved to UBS before switching back to Societe Generale and most recently hooking up with Santander Investment as director of rates sales.

Former British Lion Austin Healey worked with Credit Suisse's private client's arm, while another England international Simon Halliday joined Lehman Brothers before leaving for Nomura.

Irish players have also made waves in high finance. Triple Crown-winning full back Hugo MacNeill is the best known in Irish business circles, heading up Goldman Sachs' Irish operations. MacNeill's hand has been evident in some of the biggest corporate transactions in the State, advising on the Aer Lingus flotation in 2006 and the takeover of Eircom by Valentia and the C&C IPO.

Brendan Mullin -- Ireland's top scoring centre before the advent of Brian O'Driscoll -- is another who has made a serious mark. Mullin joined Bank of Ireland as managing director of its private banking arm last year. His career had seen stops at NCB Stockbrokers and Derek Quinlan's Quinlan Private (now Avestus). He is also involved with listed software company Zamano.

And there are plenty more former players wearing red braces who would know the difference between a credit default swap and a collateralised debt obligation.

Former Leinster full-back Mark McHugh scored a try in his only international, when Ireland ran up 40 points against Tonga in 2003. He later moved to play rugby in Montpelier and now works as an assistant fund manager at hedge fund Samm Financial in Monaco.

Jim Staples, who won 26 caps for Ireland and played in the 1991 and 1995 World Cups is also a big shot in the financial services sector. Staples has worked at the higher levels of Barclays Capital.

Closer to home, Job Langbroek is the best-known resources sector analyst in the market, having worked with Davy Stockbrokers for several years. The former prop joined Hugo MacNeill and Brendan Mullin in the Ireland team that thumped Tonga 32-9 in the first World Cup in 1987.

Flying winger Keith Crossan won 42 caps between 1982 and 1992 scoring 12 tries and winning a Triple Crown in 1985. He also played in two World Cups. Crossan works with Bank of Ireland in the North as a regional payment sales adviser.

Last year it emerged that Des Fitzgerald -- the former teak-tough Ireland prop and father of Leinster speedster Luke -- earned more than the Taoiseach, as one of the top bankers at EBS. He is director of distribution at the bailed-out building society. Fitzgerald won 34 caps for Ireland and played for the Lions in a match against a World XV.

Ireland second row and genius pundit Neil Francis is the key player at Renault's Irish financing arm.

Openside flanker Keith Gleeson played in the 2003 World Cup, winning 27 caps and a Magners League title with Leinster. He returned to Australia after his Leinster career ended, joining up with his family's financial services broking firm AJ Gleeson Financial in Sydney.

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