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Photography by Mr Kalle Gustafsson | Styling by Mr Toby Grimditch
Words by Mr Benjamin Seidler

Having retired from playing English rugby union for London Wasps three years ago to pursue a career as a sales trader for Citigroup in London, Mr Josh Lewsey is more likely to be found in an immaculate suit and tie than a muddy rugby shirt these days. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old continues to live with the same values of camaraderie and community he learnt in a sports career in which he scored 22 international tries and won the World Cup with England in 2003. Herewith, Mr Lewsey models the shirts that were once his kit, and tells us about his life both on the field and in the city.

When did you start playing rugby?
When I was four years old, as one of three boys. I think my parents thought it was quite a cheap and effective form of babysitting! When I was 15, I had a very influential coach who told me I had talent, but talent is common and useless unless you match it with equal levels of desire. So I decided to commit myself and went on from there.
What has been the highlight of your sporting career?
You can look at it in many ways. There were European and World Cups plus other trophies, but it's also about the people you meet along the way - having played with some of the people I did. As a sportsman I got to represent people, and I think that being part of a community is one of the greatest things you can do, and advocate the right values through sports.
What's the worst injury you sustained in the game?
I was quite lucky. I mean, I've broken my jaw and fractured my eye socket, had countless injuries including breaking many bones - my nose lots of times, loads of soft tissue injuries and indeed a few operations - but I still consider myself lucky that nothing was really serious. It's a pretty brutal game, but for the memories I wouldn't change a thing.
What made you decide to retire from rugby?
I wanted to explore the broader world as well - the business world. I worked pretty hard when I was playing to give myself options in the future, so I'm just exercising those options now. It can be the most amazing job in the world, but in the wrong environment when the wrong values are being advocated, professional sport can also be very frustrating. That shouldn't be the case, but it was sometimes for me and I'd had enough. We won every trophy we could, and I wanted to step out of the confines of the professional game and challenge myself in other ways. If I ever play now, I play for fun, camaraderie and community.
Do you feel there are similarities between your sporting career and your work in the city?
Yes, it's a really dynamic environment, and you're only as good as your last performance. You have brutal honesty, you're under pressure and have time constraints, there's a natural meritocracy and, on the face of it, a lack of politics. There's an honesty about this work, and because it's in a dynamic environment, you create a loyalty and trust between the people you work with, as in a sports team.
Do you ever wear rugby shirts off the pitch?
Never. I suppose that if you're living in training kit, whenever you have downtime you would want to get away from that and switch off. If you're an accountant, you probably wouldn't want to wear a suit at home.
Who are your sporting heroes?
When I was a child, I used to watch a lot of sport and I really admired [boxer] Nigel Benn. He was a real warrior, a great guy and he had mental fortitude, which is a characteristic I really admire. Nowadays, I think Amir Khan is a fantastic role model. My biggest passion in life is promoting community values through sport and being a role model to kids. You have a responsibility, and I think Amir Khan is a fantastic ambassador, who others should take as an example.

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