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Terry Kennedy on early retirements and the tough life decisions players face in sevens

Terry Kennedy sevens

Terry Kennedy is incredibly proud to play rugby sevens for Ireland, but he is aware of the greater difficulties players face in comparison to those in the 15-man game.

Rugby sevens has presented Kennedy with plenty of brilliant opportunities, which he is quick to point out, such as competing in an Olympic Games and travelling all over the world with some of his closest friends.

Salaries aren’t as high in sevens as they are in they are in professional 15-a-side rugby however, which results in some players walking away from the game at a young age in order to focus on their careers.

Kennedy was speaking at the launch of TritonLake’s new podcast series TritonLake Perform and admitted that it was difficult seeing senior members of the squad hang up their boots.

“Obviously it’s tough. We had five of the lads move on – five of the senior players in the squad. We are such a tight knit group and even the lads that have moved on – we’re still really good mates,” Kennedy explained.

“But I suppose it gives an opportunity to young lads coming through to test themselves on the world stage. They’ve all been doing great.

“Most of them have been in training with us for a decent period now so they’re well accustomed to the process and they played a couple of warm-up tournaments and stuff so it would be great to see them go in Dubai this weekend.”

Juggling rugby sevens and a career with TritonLake.

Kennedy is currently working as the vice president of investor relations with TritonLake – who are the title sponsors of Ireland’s men’s and women’s sevens teams – which has allowed him to continue playing for Ireland while progressing his career outside of rugby.

Some players have had to make the difficult choice to move on from rugby sevens however, with Greg O’Shea for example, retiring at the age of 26 in order to focus on a career in the media.

“It’s tough because obviously in the sevens it’s pretty widely known that salaries aren’t anything like what they are in the 15-a-side game. So it means that lads do have some tough decisions,” Kennedy said.

“At the moment I’m working, apart from that we have Triton Lake that have come on with us as our sponsors in the private equity space. So I’m doing that and thankfully I’ve found a situation where I can balance both and progress in the career side of things apart from rugby.

“But some of the lads decided that they have to focus on their career. Greg’s 26, some of the lads are 26 or 27. It’s quite a young age to retire. But that’s the unfortunate reality of the situation we’re in with the sevens team. It’s a bit disappointing.”

The World Rugby Sevens Series is back in full swing.

In just two day’s time, the 2021/22 season of the World Rugby Sevens Series will kick off, in what aims to be the first full season of international rugby sevens since the beginning of the pandemic.

The 2019/20 season was cut short in March due to the outbreak of Covid-19, while just two events were played last season, both of which took place in Canada in September.

A full schedule has been finalised for this season, with the world’s best sevens players set to grace the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Canada, the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, France and England over the next seven months.

“We’re delighted to get back to it. Obviously the last year and a half or so has been a funny one for us. We’ve had no assurances that tournaments would go ahead and plenty of things were cancelled,” Kennedy said.

Terry Kennedy

“So hopefully now we have a good plan in place for this season and we can get back on the road again.”

While certain issues do arise from a career in sevens, Kennedy has no regrets over playing for his country on the world stage.

“In terms of longevity it’s difficult when the salaries aren’t quite high enough and it’s tough to see some of your best mates walk away at 26 or 27,” Kennedy admitted.

“But definitely for the time we’ve been playing, we’ve had experiences that you just wouldn’t come by in normal life and the opportunities to travel the world with your mates and playing in these incredible locations.

“We definitely don’t it take for granted and we love every minute of it.”

TritonLake, title sponsors of the Ireland Men’s and Women’s 7s teams since 2021, have launched a new podcast called TritonLake Perform, exploring the intersection of sport and business. TritonLake look forward to an exciting World Rugby Sevens Series season for both teams.

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