Joe will be producing regular blogs for our “Ask a Professional” section, which will give our readers the opportunity to find out more about his life as a professional rugby player and ask him questions!
For anyone unfamiliar with Australian rugby, Roff is a legend known for his blistering pace as a wing, fullback and center, his class handwork and his work rate at the breakdown. He was a great goal kicker – kicking 18 penalties and 20 conversions in his test career – and was one of the most capped players in Australian Rugby history.
Roff spent 10 years playing professional rugby union in Australia, France and Japan before retiring at age 29. His impressive rugby career includes playing in three Rugby World Cups, including Australia’s victory in 1999, winning the Tri Nations in 2000 and 2001 and completing a successful series against the British and Irish Lions in 2001. He has also played overseas for Biarritz, Kubota and Oxford University.
Until March 2007 he was the top try scorer in Super Rugby before he was overtaken by Doug Howlett. He also holds the record for most tries in a Super 12 season, scoring 15 in 1997.
What makes Roff’s experience unique, however, is that he is one of a few players that went back to play amateur rugby after retiring from the professional game. He is also one of the nicest guys we have ever met! It is only fitting then that FRN tracked him down to find out how he found it moving from professional rugby back to the amateur game.
Check out Roff’s top ten moments:
Joe started playing rugby when he moved with his family to Canberra at the age of 14. Like many of us, he was influenced to take up rugby by his friends. “All of my friends were playing rugby so it made sense to play,” Roff said.
By 1996 he was a regular feature in the starting test side and in 1999 was a part of Australia’s world cup win and the back to back tri nations wins of 2000 and 2001.
Roff scored the intercept try in the second British Lions Test in 2001 and experienced greatness when Australia went on to win the series.
Midway through the super 12 season of 2004 he announced that he would retire at the end of the domestic international season. He was just 29 years old and had spent 10 years playing test rugby and amassed 86 test caps and 244 points. He left the Brumbies in 2004 as the team took the Super 12 Final.
Roff matriculated at the University of Oxford in October 2006 to read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Harris Manchester College and made a return to amateur rugby by playing for the Oxford University Blues (OURFC).
Read more about Roff’s experience playing for the Blues here.
Roff represented the Blues in their annual match against Cambridge at Twickenham Stadium in December 2006 and captained the side the following year in 2007, before hanging up his boots for the last time.
Roff’s Views on Amateur Rugby
After speaking to Roff it is clear that he loved his return to amateur rugby – the spirit of the game, the traditions of the Varsity match and the friends he made during his time playing for the Blues had a significant and lasting impact on him and he is now a regular supporter of the Blues team.
When interviewed during his time playing for the Blues, Roff said:
“It’s certainly a smaller crowd but it was a lot of fun out there, the enthusiasm of the students is fantastic and it’s really rubbing off on me and I’m really enjoying playing with them.”
Last year Roff took part in the game by assisting as a touch judge in the Varsity match and this year he made the trip from Australia to enjoy the match from the stands.When asked about this year’s Varsity match, Roff said: “It was great to see another dark Blue victory and it was a fantastic couple of days for me to reconnect with some golden friends…very special.”
Roff is also a big supporter of his local rugby community.
“The Brumbies are my home team and there is something special about sharing a title with your own community and where you walk the streets and frequent the cafes – when you look into the crowd at those finals and can hear your mates calling out to you (with a few under their belt of course) it has a different but no less special feel to the enormity of a rugby world cup final,” Roff said.
Career After Rugby
So what do professional rugby players do when they retire?
In June 2012, the University of Canberra Union announced that Roff had been appointed as its CEO with effect from July 2012. Click here for more information.
Roff left a management position with Lifeline Australia where he has held the position of Director of Workforce Development since 2010 to take up the role. He had previously worked as a consultant with The Nous Group.
“I am excited by the direction of the UCU and the opportunity to lead the organisation. I have been involved in sporting and community organisations in Canberra for the past 15 years, and I look forward to bringing the skills I have gained working in Canberra business and as a professional athlete to the UCU,” Roff said.
And is he happy?
“Now that I am working in a ‘real job’ I understand the value of a weekend, of time in the backyard, and of being on the other side of the fence at a Brumbies match with a beer and a pie in my hand. It is far more civilized than actually playing. I have three young children and I think the boys are ready to start coming out to Canberra stadium. Life is good,” Roff said.
Look out for Joe’s first blog this February – just in time for the Super 15s kick-off!