Mark Lambert has spent the best part of 15 seasons competing at the highest level of the game and that’s why the Harlequins front-rower believes it’s time to give something back.
The 33-year-old has sat on the board of the Rugby Players’ Association for five years and was elected chairman of the organisation in November, replacing Northampton Saints lock Christian Day.
The sports-mad prop understands the importance of his new role and is ready to help grow the game in England for years to come.
The highest honour
Lambert confesses that he had no intention to become chairman of the RPA when he first joined but five years on, the Quins forward is hoping to represent every player in the fairest way.
“I didn’t join the organisation with a view to becoming chairman but I’ve always been interested in the wider issues of the game as well as representing Harlequins, and now all the professional players in England, as well as I can,” he said.
“It’s something that I enjoy and hopefully it’s something I can continue. One of the reasons I love playing rugby is because it’s a team sport – I’ve always gravitated towards team sports in my life. I like that element of sport where people have each other’s backs.
“That applies off the field as well. I saw it as an opportunity to do that for Quins and to be part of a strong player voice in the game. I think it’s really important that the players are represented by strong voices.
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to play the game for as long as I have. I’ve loved it and loved playing in the Aviva Premiership – it’s a great competition.
“If I can leave the game in a better and more secure place for players, then that would be great for me. If I can play any sort of role in making positive changes for players then that’s something I’m really keen to do.”
The future’s bright
Lambert joined Harlequins in 2004 and has made more than 200 appearances for the London club, while also finding time to complete an English literature degree from Goldsmiths, University of London.
A one-club- man, the 33-year-old is now thinking about his own future and claims the standard of rugby in England has never been higher.
He said: “In many ways, the game is in a really good place. The profile of the game is high.
“The guys at the top of the game playing for England are probably the best group of professionals and some of the most-respected sportspeople in the country, which is a great place for the game to be in.
“The national side are going well and I genuinely believe the Premiership is a great product. From a product point of view, rugby is in a good place.
“With my RPA hat on, it’s just important that those players producing the product are looked after really well.
“There’s a lot of research going into training loads and psychological elements of the game, which I see as really positive steps going forward. The goal is for everyone to have long, successful, healthy careers.”
On the field it has been a frustrating season for Harlequins, who sit in ninth place with six wins from 15 league matches.
Lambert knows the season hasn’t gone according to plan but is still confident Quins can turn things around and finish on a high."I’d describe the season as quite a frustrating one so far."
He added: “I’d describe the season as quite a frustrating one so far. We’ve had a handful of really positive results, beating Wasps away and Saracens at home, but we’ve been too inconsistent.
“That’s why we are where we are in the table and it’s not where we’d like to be. We’ve got a really good squad this year that want to play for each other.
“We’re still positive about the remainder of the season and we just need to consistently string some performances together. The next few games are huge for us.”