Adam & Darren Clayton

How did you end your career?

My professional career ended in 2012, at the age of 25, while I was with the Cornish Pirates. I ruptured my ACL and tore my meniscus 18 months prior to retiring. After extensive physio, I unfortunately couldn’t get back on the field due to on-going knee and hamstring complications. 

I had several scans throughout my rehab and after the latest one, I remember getting a call from the physio saying I needed to come into the club. I had to see the Doctor and then have a meeting with the Director of Rugby.

I knew from the call that it wasn’t going to be good news so I rang my dad, who had followed my career and pretty much attended every game since the age of 7.

He lived 2 and a half hours away from the club but his immediate response was ‘I’ll be straight there’. As we expected it wasn’t good news and after two very long meetings with both the doctor and the club DOR, it was very apparent that I needed to retire from the professional game. 

Were you happy to end your career when you did? Why?

No, I felt like I had so much more to give to the sport and being only 25, I still had ambitions to get myself back into a Premiership club. 

How did you prepare for retirement while you were playing?

To be honest I hadn’t. I never planned to retire through injury at 25. Probably like many other athletes, I thought I was invincible, that I could play rugby and earn a decent living until my early thirties.

Are you still involved in rugby in any capacity?

Not through playing or coaching but through work, with the National Rugby Awards. Darren and I set up the National Rugby Awards in 2015 off the back of setting up our business, Zeus Events. Our aim is to recognise and raise the profile of every grassroots club in the country and bring them all together through an awards ceremony to celebrate all the great things clubs and individuals are doing for the game.

Do you compete in another way now?

Since leaving rugby, I have never lost the competitiveness and need for physical exertion so I’ve kept fit in the gym with both weight training and boxing. More recently, I’ve begun competing in CrossFit. 

What did you do immediately for work?

When I retired I had 6 months left on my contract so I was very fortunate that Cornish Pirates honoured the contract and continued to pay me even though I had retired and left the club. This gave me the opportunity to have the time to set up a charity event for a good friend of ours after tragically losing him.

He was a professional cricketer so we set out to raise money and launch a scholarship under Tom’s name that helps send an underprivileged but deserving cricketer to Millfield School, which is where we all met. 

After delivering the event I took on a field sales role for a company called Cathedral Hygiene. 

How did it go?

Terribly! I enjoyed the freedom of being out on the road selling and not being stuck in an office but to be honest, I had zero passion for the product I was selling and I always knew it was only temporary job so as bad as it sounds I didn’t give a f***.

I booked 90% of my meetings in either gyms or coffee shops so I could train and spend time setting up my own business. After roughly 7 months of this they finally clocked on and we mutually agreed I would leave the company. 

What are you doing now?

I am now have a business called Zeus Events which I set up with my brother, Chris Robshaw and Guy Bennett. We run sports events across the country and are Official Rights Holders for the National Rugby Awards and the Women's Tour of Scotland.  

Is this something you see yourself doing long term?

Yes certainly. The goal from leaving rugby was to always run my own business. 

What does it provide for you apart from money?

The opportunity to stay involved in sport which is a huge passion of mine. It also gives me freedom and a certain lifestyle which works for both my daughter and my fiance.

What support did you receive with your transition?

As I mentioned, I was very fortunate that Cornish Pirates continued to pay me for 6 months which gave me the time to figure out what I wanted to do outside of rugby.

I also received support from Restart Rugby who helped fund some ongoing physio, scans and medical advice. 

Would you say that you have transitioned?

I believe I have now finally transitioned but don't get me wrong, there are still days when I would love to be a professional athlete again.

Did you experience any mental health issues as a result of retiring?

Nothing too serious, meaning that I managed to deal with it on my own, but I went through some tough times knowing that I would never be in that environment again.

A lot of it came down to my identity which is something I still struggle with a bit now; training hard in the gym and keeping myself fit and healthy helps. 

What has sport given you?

Friendships, memories and a true understanding that anything in this life is possible if you believe!

What’s your best memory from your career?

Probably representing Adidas In the Dubai 7’s and having Dan Carter as our Waterboy. 

If you had one piece of advice for retiring athletes, what would it be?

Get doing something you love and have a true passion for!