When 58-Test Wallaby Mark Chisholm decided he was going to hang up the boots, he wasn’t sure what the future would hold, but he did know who to call.
The 35-year-old got in touch with former Brumbies and Wallabies teammate Stephen Hoiles, who helps coordinate the Classic Wallabies program.
“The Classic Wallabies have been extremely helpful, I contacted Steve about six months to go, letting him know there was a high possibility I would be retiring and he was straight on to it,” Chisholm said.
The Classic Wallabies is a network of former players designed to keep the fire burning and provide support and opportunities to former Test players post-retirement.
“It’s really that transition period, allowing players to make that next step and letting them know they’re not alone,” Chisholm said.
“To give them that sense of community, knowing they have someone there, whether it be a job or whether it be a little bit of reconnection with the community, it goes a long way.”
Chisholm played more than 100 times for the Brumbies before moving to Bayonne in France in 2011 and then finally taking up a two-year deal at Irish and European heavyweights Munster in 2015.
The 197cm lock, who part of the 2007 Rugby World Cup squad in France, is now hoping to give back to the sport that’s been a pivotal part of his life.
“Rugby’s given me so much, even to my family. I've had so many great experiences all over the world that it would be selfish of me to hold it in myself,” he said.
“I really want to give it back to the younger players and give them, if anything, the drive to keep going with it.”
Chisholm and Hoiles were recently in Queensland, visiting schools and clubs in the hope of reigniting some passion for rugby.
“It’s bringing rugby to the communities and letting the kids know how good rugby is, what it means, what the values are and how much fun they can have playing it,” Chisholm said.
“If we can do anything, the Classic Wallabies are bringing rugby back into the limelight.
“We can get the interest started from the grassroots and bring them up to the clubs and then (on to) the professional level.”