September 13, 2013
British & Irish Lions captain and Welsh rugby star Sam Warburton has hit back at critics of the ever-expanding team that supports today’s top professional players.
In the modern game, a growing team of dieticians, analysts, specialist coaches and medical experts all accompany the world’s top rugby sides. The winning 2013 British & Irish Lions team, captained by Warburton, was supported by 10 coaching staff as well as a professional support operation of media and team management specialists.
Speaking to schoolchildren considering degrees at the University of South Wales, 24-year old Warburton, who studied at Cardiff’s Whitchurch High School, hammered home the importance of having a strong support team around him to bring out his best performance.
He said: “It’s fundamentally about what’s inside and a player’s mental and physical condition. Games can turn on the smallest of margins, so you have to be at your very peak to win at the top level. The people who support us as the players can make all the difference between a good player and a really great athlete.”
After a training session with sports students, Warburton held a question and answer session where he advised the young people to consider what makes a great sportsperson, and how education and world-class facilities – such as those used by the All Blacks at the University’s Sport Park – can help unlock a wide range of career opportunities.
Talking to the students about the highs and lows of his career in rugby, he said: “Not all of us will be professional players, but there is more to sport than what happens on the pitch. You need to think outside the 80 minutes of a game.
“The range of careers in professional sport is huge, from coaches to medics, public relations experts to lawyers, as well as hospitality and events management. The best educational facilities out there, such as those here at the University of South Wales, are world class and I hope that the ambitions of the students who learn here will be the same. I’m saying to them that it’s so important to grab every opportunity and carve out your own future.”