Our recent speaker was none other than Robbie Hunter-Paul, retired professional Bradford Bulls star and now successful business owner and rugby pundit.
Oscar Wilde once said that 'Rugby is a game for barbarians played by gentleman' and Robbie proved to be a true gentleman. He was kind, funny, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and above all humble and respectful. A fantastic role model for young people, the Level 3 Business and Software Development students really appreciated the time he gave them.
He began with insights into his childhood in Tokoroa, New Zealand, starting to play rugby at 4 and being signed to Bradford Bulls at 18. His brother Henry Paul had described Britain as having palm trees and his only other impression of his new destination came from the film "Rita, Sue and Bob too". Robbie continued what would be a hugely successful career including being captain of the team, scoring three tries in the 1996 Challenge Cup Final and receiving the Lance Todd Trophy for 'Man of the Match'. He still holds the record for the player who made the most tries scored for the Bradford Bulls.
He also spoke openly about challenges and personal loss and emphasised the need for hard work and determination and the importance of never giving up no matter how hard you find things. He was refreshingly honest with the students and explained there were no 'get rich quick fixes”, the only way to be successful was to get an education and work hard.
Robbie recognised how hard it was for today's generation, the impact of social media and the social pressures it places on young people. He spoke about the importance of positive mental health. Even moving forward after a professional sporting career presents challenges. Players live a very regimented lifestyle where they are looked - being told what to eat, what to drink, what to wear etc, and when all that abruptly stops, there is very little support which can affect a person’s ability to cope. Having witnessed this with other players, when Robbie retired from professional rugby in 2011, he had a plan. He went to Huddersfield University to get a degree in Marketing & Public Relations.
He enjoyed learning but admitted he didn't find it easy at all and worked hard with determination, never giving up until he succeeded. When he didn't understand something, he would go back and re-read something over and over again and break it down until he got it. He now has a successful company, Xtra Mile Marketing.
Robbie summarised his key guidance as A.R.S.E. - Attitude, Responsibility, Sacrifice and Evolve. Unsurprisingly the students responded very well to this and have remembered this code ever since his visit! One student said "Robbie is the best speaker we have ever had. He told us the truth and treated us like adults." Another said "He made me feel like I could start my own business. I know now it will take a lot of hard work but Robbie made me realise it's worth all the hard work and dedication".
For anyone who wants to know more about Robbie’s life, you can read more in Robbie Rugby Warrior.
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