Revealed: Sam Underhill's Very Different Career Before Rising to Rugby Stardom - Ruck

Revealed: Sam Underhill’s Very Different Career Before Rising to Rugby Stardom

Rugby isn’t all glitz and glamour.

Join the RUCK’s WhatsApp community here and get the latest news sent straight to your messages.

We should take a moment to appreciate those rugby players who worked in other fields before finding success in the game we all love.

In a time when dedication to the sport is paramount, it’s rare to find players who, just months before turning professional, were working regular jobs.

With that in mind, here are five players, each with different skills, who made it to the professional level.

1. Liam Williams – Scaffolder

Williams’ journey to international rugby began as a scaffolder. This job, not for the faint-hearted, involved rigging scaffolding “over the top of a blast furnace, 300 feet from the ground” in Wales.

2. Sam Underhill – Painter/Decorator

Before earning a professional contract, future England star Sam Underhill apprenticed under his granddad as a painter and decorator. The 27-year-old enjoys staying busy and hasn’t ruled out returning to the trade after his rugby career ends.

3. Karl Tu’inukuafe – Bouncer

Mustachioed man mountain prop Karl Tu’inukuafe has gone from 27-stone nightclub bouncer to Test tyro. He only made his Super Rugby debut lain 2018 but has already racked up 13 caps for the All Blacks.

4. Diego Arbelo – Uber Driver

When the Uruguay international isn’t in the gym or on the rugby field, he’s driving an Uber in Uruguay’s capital city Montevideo to pay the bills.

5. Semesa Rokoduguni – Soldier

A lance corporal and British Army soldier, Rokoduguni made his professional debut at the stunning age of 25. Known as Roko, the Fijian-born English international plays for Bath Rugby Club, where he is known for his speed and ability to score awe-inspiring tries.

DID YOU KNOW: He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 as part of Operation Herrick


Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia)

Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.

“But I go for Folau – only just, I should stress – because of his ability to seemingly beat his man every time he gets the ball in his hand. He’s such an exciting player and like Leigh he is one of the best under the high ball.

“It’s a toss of a coin for me… and it’s come down in Folau’s favour.”

Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.

“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.

“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”

Fixtures for the Six Nations - Round 1

Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.

“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”

Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

Owens said: “He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.

“What a player, mind, too. One of the stalwarts of the New Zealand side for so many years.”

Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)

Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.

“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.

“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”