Wasps today announced that Wasps’ favourite and former Club captain, Tom Rees, has signed up to become an ambassador for Wasps Academy.
The England flanker, who won 15 caps for his country and was in the frame for the England captaincy when injury cut short his rugby career at the age of 28, will take up the voluntary role this month.
Rees, 30, will attend Wasps Academy events and provide a mentoring role for players coming through the academy. During this time, he will be able to share his knowledge of the game and also provide an insight into what it takes to succeed at the highest level in professional sport.
Having been forced to retire prematurely, Rees is forging a successful new career in medicine and is currently on a clinical attachment, walking the wards at West Middlesex Hospital, as a third year medical student at Imperial College, London. This life experience will also provide a key lesson to share with the crop of budding young professionals, as Rees re-affirms the importance of players pursuing an interest or continuing their studies outside of rugby.
Tom Rees said: "I am delighted to have been asked to return to Wasps to support the academy. Wasps is a part of my DNA and it was a privilege to wear the black and gold and learn from so many legends of the game at the Club. It’s great to be able to give something back and to try to provide a similar role for the young guys coming through.
"I have been really impressed by the new Wasps Academy set-up and the investment in this area, not only to develop players’ skills on the field, but also to look after them off the field and make sure they are using their time productively by focussing on other projects. That could be studying, or work experience placements, or initiatives like they are currently running in "Battle of the Brands," which is an apprentice style challenge to help raise money for the Brain Tumour Trust.
"When you are a young guy, on the fringe of professional rugby, you have a lot of time on your hands and it’s tempting to do very little away from the training ground. Keeping the brain active is as important as physical activity.
"I’m looking forward to taking on this voluntary role, especially at such an exciting time for Wasps. It’s wonderful to see the revival of the Club after a difficult few years and hopefully the good run in the Aviva Premiership and Europe will continue."
Wasps Academy Athletic Performance Manager, Ian Taplin, said: "Having a player of Tom Rees’ reputation and stature within the game backing us is a huge boost for what we are trying to achieve at Wasps. Tom was renowned not only for his talent, but also his professionalism. He fits perfectly with the values we promote here at Wasps Academy – behaviours based on effort, resilience and a growth mind-set – and I have no doubt Tom will inspire the next generation of Wasps players, much as he did his peers when he captained Wasps."