City in a scrum to catch a better class of bruiser

James Bethell looks at the charm offensive on the markets by some of the top names in rugby union
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The Independent Online
On the field, they are feared for their aggression, power and speed. In the bars, they are admired for their stamina and wit. Now rugby stars are being courted by the City for some of the most lucrative posts in finance.

"It makes great business sense to have a top rugby player on the trading desk," explains the manager of one of the securities firms discovering the advantages of employing the nation's biggest bruisers.

Some players have qualifications that naturally take them to the City. Brian Moore's legal training and Rob Andrew's background in chartered surveying make them obvious recruits.

However, employers of top rugby players confess they are often paying for something other than professional expertise. They know that many of their clients, especially on the bond and equity desks, are rugby fans.

"You get a better class of person on the bond and equity desks and they tend to be more interested in rugby than soccer and boxing, which tend to remain games for the barrow boys," said one employer of rugby stars.

"Every desk needs a 'face', someone who gives your clients a reason to trade with you," said one desk manager. "You might have a pretty girl or a famous wit, but a big, beefy rugby player is the best."

If their sporting activities mean they are sometimes unable to keep up on day-to-day trading activities, these famous brokers come into their own at meetings with clients, where the talk often turns to sporting matters. The star can often forge valuable business links with enjoyable stories.

"Rugby players tend to be extremely sociable, they can hold their drink without getting silly and they have great anecdotes to tell," said one manager at Liberty, the securities house.

Nor is their ability to get served at busy bars or obtain highly desirable tickets to inter-national matches underestimated by clients and their bosses. Most players get jobs in the bond and repo markets, often trading with the dealers.

One exception to this rule is Simon Halliday, an equity salesman at UBS who started stockbroking in the West Country after he left Oxford University. He argues that the discipline, determination and experience of team work gained can make players well suited for a career in the City. Being a rugby player also helps making contacts.

"Being a national rugby player undoubtedly opens doors, but life can get very frustrating when all your clients want to do is chat about sport and never get around to doing deals," he said.

Jim Staples (30).

Ireland full-back/ wing.

Broker, Societe Generale Strauss Turnbull

Tony Underwood (26).

England wing.

Institutional sales, Crosby Securities

Simon Halliday (34).

Ex-England wing.

Director of UK equities, Union Bank of Switzerland

David Pears (27).

England outside centre / full-back.

Eurobond broker, Cantor Fitzgerald International

Nicholas Popplewell (31).

Ireland prop.

Money broker, formerly of Garban

Brian Moore (33).

England hooker.

Partner, Litigation Department, Edward Lewis & co

Stuart Russell (32).

Welsh second row.

Works in Dutch gilders, Cantor Fitzgerald International

Norman Hadlee (30).

Canadian second row.

Far East convertible bond broker, Cantor Fitzgerald International

Rob Andrew (32).

England fly-half.

Associate director, investment management, Debenham Tewson Chinnock

Will Carling (29).

England captain.

Director, Insight

Victor Ubogu (30).

England prop.

About to begin work as a repo salesman, Liberty Eurasia

Ian Morrison (32).

Scotland flanker.

Works in interest rates, Nomura

Peter Winterbottom (35).

Ex-England flanker.

Inter-dealer Eurobond broker, Tullett and Tokyo

Ben Clarke (27).

England forward.

Promotions manager, Credit Lyonnaise Laing and National Power