James Clare on rejecting new Castleford deal, work outside of rugby league & future playing career

James Clare

James Clare reveals that he rejected an extended contract with Castleford for 2023 to focus on a new career and his business away from the full-time rugby league environment. 

Clare, 31, made more than 100 appearances for his hometown club, having made his debut back in 2012 after progressing through the academy. His career also saw him feature for the likes of Bradford, Leigh and York.

The winger admits he was offered a new contract to remain with the Tigers alongside a coaching role with the foundation, but instead opted to focus on his own business and a new role in a high school.

He currently runs the Elite Rugby Academy, coaching children aged 4-14 alongside Danny Orr, who originally set up the business with former player Ryan Hudson.

James Clare on rejecting new Castleford contract

“I took a job in a high school recently,” Clare told Love Rugby League. “I was offered a couple of different positions at Castleford, but it was just difficult to make it work with my own business and I’ve got a young family as well. So I chose to turn it down and look for alternative provision and I ended up working in a high school. I love it.

“Castleford offered me a very good coaching role, and it was a well paid role as well. Coaching is what I’m passionate about. I coach kids through the academy business.

“It was one of those ones where I had to choose between my own business and my career choice as a coach working for the foundation and we just couldn’t work things out together unfortunately.

“It’s now four weeks of having a real job, it’s strange!

“There’s a lot of rugby league players who worry about getting a “real job” when they finish, but my message to them is just to do it. It’s a big leap to start with, but it’s good to start with as well.

“I’ve always loved coaching”

“I’ve done Elite Rugby Academy for a long time, but I’ve now bought into the business after Andy Lynch went to Australia. I bought it off him. That’s something I’ve been committed to for a very long time.

“It was Danny Orr and Ryan Hudson who originally set it up. Andy Lynch joined a few years later and then I bought his shares.

“I’ve always loved coaching. I love rugby league and love playing it. When you become a professional, things become a little bit more serious and not necessarily as much fun as it was when you’re a kid.

“So, when you’re coaching, whether it’s a kid’s first ever training session or a 14-year-old aspiring to be a Super League player, it just kinds of grounds you and reminds you why you’re doing what you’re doing.

“The first ever fan that had Clare on the back of his shirt that I saw was a kid from Elite that I coached that I had no relation to. I didn’t know him other than I coached him, and he had my name on the back of his shirt and that’s a memory that’s stuck with me forever.

“I know it’s only something little, but it’s special and I remember exactly who it was and where I saw him.”

James Clare, PA Images.
James Clare in action against Wakefield during the 2018 Super League season. Richard Sellers/PA Archive/PA Images.

James Clare on playing future

Clare, who finishes his playing career at Castleford with 54 tries, hasn’t ruled out a part-time move for next season and beyond, having held discussions with multiple clubs.

However, the utility-back admits that those talks are currently on hold until the new year.

“I’ve been in a fair few discussions and I’ve had a lot of offers from both League 1 and Championship clubs,” Clare said.

“I’ve paused them all at the moment because I need to sort of get settled in the job and work out exactly what I’m doing.

“The school I’m at now has offered me additional coaching hours after school, which makes it more difficult to get to training on an evening as well.

“Those who I’ve spoken to, I’ve sort of just paused for now but I’ll be able to discuss in more depth in January when I know where I am and settled.”

Instead, Clare is focussing all his attention on his new role at a high school, working with vulnerable students.

“I’m in something called a PLC in the high school, which is like the most vulnerable children you can ever imagine that have got life stories that should probably only ever exist in books. 

“While I’ve been a professional rugby league player, I’ve been doing further education on days off and evenings and I’m a qualified teaching assistant.

“Personally, I was lucky that Rugby League Cares funded it and helped away from the field, I didn’t pay a penny thanks to them, so you can’t say no.

“I was very naughty growing up as a kid. I got into trouble with the police, so I can kind of relate to the kids and I’ve said to them nothing like I’m delivering existed for me back then.

“My escape was rugby league” – James Clare

“But my avenue and my escape was rugby league. I played with Joe Westerman and Liam Watts and we went on to win National Schools finals and things.

“My kind of thing was you needed to go to school and behave so you could play rugby and that was my channel and my focus as a youngster.

“The school is in Pontefract and there’s a fairly large Castleford following and a Leeds following as well. There’s been a fair bit of banter and a lot of other kids knocking at my door just to either sign something or boo at me because they’re a Leeds fan.

“It’s been really enjoyable.”

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About Josh McAllister 2277 Articles
Journalist. Joined the Love Rugby League team full time at the start of 2022 having been a freelance reporter for several years. Previously media manager for Swinton and Rochdale.

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