Rugby doesn’t always pay the bills in provinces

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 05/09/2014
DAY JOB: Stags player Craig Smith spent some time back on the building site yesterday in Invercargill where he works as a builder outside of the rugby season.
ROBYN EDIE/FAIRFAX NZ
DAY JOB: Stags player Craig Smith spent some time back on the building site yesterday in Invercargill where he works as a builder outside of the rugby season.

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Provincial rugby isn't a fulltime gig for most players in New Zealand these days.

Outside of Super Rugby players, and the All Blacks, those plying their trade in the national provincial rugby competition need something else.

As provincial unions tighten their belts, in regard to their wage bills, the importance for players having something outside rugby, in terms of employment or eduction, has increased.

That importance also heightens for unions to have buy-in from employers and educators to allow some flexibility for players to juggle their rugby commitments with work.

Most provincial players need to convince their bosses to let them go for four months throughout the NPC season and hope they can return after it.

During the season half a day a week in the Stags schedule is dedicated for players to undergo personal development.

Yesterday many Stags players spent that half day back at their jobs to say thank-you to their employers for the flexibility shown them.

Others used the time for work experience in a field which they would like to enter.

Rugby Southland professional development manager Jason McKenzie said now it was as important as ever for players to have a focus outside rugby.

''There is two parts to [yesterday], one is for the players to go back and give back some time to those employers that have been generous enough to let them be released for the Stags season.

"That is massive in the modern game, these guys have to work so we need employers that are willing to release them for four months. It is a big commitment from an employer and we want to recognise that.''

''The other part is the guys can use the time to try some new experiences, and use it for work experience, so there is that as well.''

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- The Southland Times

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