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Priestland launches career after rugby

Corporate | 22nd February 2024

As a fly-half Rhys Priestland has spent his entire career calculating the next move - when to pass, kick and run - but he has also been plotting for life after rugby.

The 37-year-old hung up his boots at the end of last season, bringing a close to an illustrious playing career in which he starred for Scarlets, Bath and Cardiff and won 52 caps for Wales.

And he has wasted no time in embarking on his next career as a financial advisor after wisely combining rugby with study during his playing days. 

He was already embarking on a degree in economics at Bristol when he signed a development contract with the Scarlets in 2006. 

During his time at Bath and latterly Cardiff, he completed an MBA and just last season as he was pulling the strings in Blue and Black, he qualified as a financial advisor. 

“I never planned to be a rugby player,” recalls Priestland. “I just played for fun, I wasn’t in the Scarlets academy or anything so I went off to uni and then got into the Wales Under-18s and 19s teams. 

“That went pretty well so they wanted me to come back with the first team. I transferred to Cardiff where I continued to combine playing with uni and then to Swansea to finish my degree when I went full-time.

“Looking back on my career in rugby, I am really glad I did invest time and energy into my education. Rugby players, like everyone really, think they are busy but you only need to look at the screen time on your phone to see how much time you potentially waste.

“You have time to do things, you just need to find the commitment, the time management and self control to sit down and do something. 

“Through my late 20s and early 30s I was very good at putting things off because there was a big game the next week or whatever but the next thing you know the next month or season has gone by and you haven’t done anything and you’re no further down the line.

“So I am really glad I got back to it. There are time when you kick yourself, when you have an assignment or particularly the MBA dissertation, which was when I had just moved back. It was a stressful few months but you see the value afterwards and once you’re finished it always seems worth it. 

Priestland is now six months into his new career with Nine Wealth Management, owned by former Cardiff scrum-half Andy Booth and part of the St James Place group. 

It is an entirely different world for Priestland but one he was ready for and is now thoroughly enjoying. But does he miss lacing up his boots every weekend?

“It was the right time for me to finish,” continues Priestland. “And I don’t miss playing.

“When I first finished, I loved it. I had three months off because I was waiting for my training to start. I was just playing golf, walking the dog, going for coffees. It was great but that’s not the real world. 

“I’m really enjoying the job and Boothy has been great. Initially, I didn’t think I would want to work for St James’ Place but I went to an open evening put on by the WRPA, and it got me thinking. I then went to meet Boothy and we really hit it off. 

“I was able to really pick his brains, get an understanding of what was out there and what St James’ Place offer. We got only really well and when you consider what he has managed to build with Nine Wealth Management, the reputation he has and the way he manages his clients, in an ideal world that’s what I would like to build towards.

“i love going into the office, I never feel like it’s yet another day of work. I’m lucky that they have 30-years of experience so I am able to learn from that, see the processes they go through and how they get to a conclusion. Every Monday we sit down as a three and go through our various clients so I get a brilliant insight into how things work and develop. 

“I've also started my exams now to become chartered. That will be another few years but I feel it is really important to have. 

“So I do feel very fortunate to be in this position because a lot of other players feel a little bit lost when they finish and find that transition challenging.

“Of course there are things I miss like the crack with the boys and also the structure of the week, knowing exactly what I’ve got on, where I need to be etcetera even if that’s weights in Pentwyn at 8am.”

Priestland has continued to keep a keen eye on Cardiff and has been impressed by his successor Tinus de Beer.

He has been a regular at the Arms Park, working almost every game for BBC or S4C to “pay the bills” as he fully establishes himself as a financial advisor.

He continued: “I know the results haven't gone their way, but you can really see what they're trying to develop down here and the brand of rugby they're trying to play.

“It's not just me, I think most of the supporters have bought into that and they can see that it's not going to be plain sailing, especially the first few years, but long term there's a load of talent coming through. 

“I always felt that when I was here. I thought with the kids coming through, there’s loads of potential and we're sort of seeing that now with Alex Mann, Cam Winnett, Teddy, they’ve all taken to international rugby as if they'd been playing it for years.

“But also the likes of Assiratti and Doma. Coming here and seeing where they were, then them getting their chance, people showing a bit of belief in them and how they're kicking on now. 

“I’m really enjoying watching Cardiff, I was a bit disappointed with the weekend because even though they were down to 14 for the majority of the game, I felt Cardiff probably lost it more than Connacht won it. 

“But they are showing some really good stuff and things seem really positive here.”

Priestland will be back at the Arms Park once again next Thursday (Feb 29), as he launches his new venture with Nine Wealth Management.

Sean Holley will host the evening with a Q&A featuring Ellis Jenkins, Gareth Anscombe and Lou Reed, while industry experts will showcase the Nine Wealth’s services and products. 

“I just want to highlight that this is what I’m doing because people see me on TV and still think I play,” joked Priestland. 

“It’s an evening where we will showcase our products and services. Neil Fisher a senior investment consultant at St James Place is coming so it’s a great opportunity for people with their own businesses etcetera to come and see how we can give them real value. 

“It will also be worth coming just to listen to Lou in the Q&A!”

If you think you, your company or someone you know would benefit from the evening, please email @[email protected]. the Launch Event takes place in the Sir Gareth Edwards Lounge at Cardiff Arms Park on Thursday, 29 February, beginning at 5.30pm.