100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
Get all your news in one place
Latest Sport news:
Cycling review highlights need to put athletes before medals
A new report on how our top cyclists are managed highlights favouritism, failings at the sport's HQ in Cambridge and…
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
Alfa Romeo seeks “easy weekend” at Spanish GP with F1 updates
Alfa Romeo Formula 1 boss Fred Vasseur is hoping for an “easy weekend” following the dramas of Imola and Miami…
Ball On A Budget: Rekurv E-14.05 Touring Boots
German gear and equipment distributor Louis' sub-brand Rekurv introduces the E-14.05 touring boots. These stylish boots are CE-rated and affordable.
Betis star suggests crowdfunding Hector Bellerin’s transfer after Arsenal loanee’s tears at final home game
Hector Bellerin was in tears after the final home game of his loan spell to Real Betis - prompting teammates…
Giannis Antetokounmpo Needs More Help From the Bucks
The Bucks’ flaws that laid themselves bare in this series are the ones that need addressing.
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
Hamlin "emotional" after Busch claimed win for his 23XI NASCAR team
NASCAR Cup driver Denny Hamlin says there has been no win he’s had that equals the emotions he experienced watching…
Suzuki’s Mir laments “painful mentally” Le Mans MotoGP crash
Suzuki’s Joan Mir says his crash out of podium contention in last Sunday’s MotoGP French Grand Prix was “painful mentally”.

Shane Williams reveals personal struggles over past seven years in candid interview

By Jon Doel

Wales rugby legend Shane Williams has spoken candidly about his difficulties coming to terms with life after rugby over the past seven years, admitting he has been "petrified" at times.

Williams admits he has experienced loneliness and self-doubt, questioning his own relevance in life after the game he dedicated everything to was gone.

Speaking in a searingly honest Rugby Pod podcast interview with former Scotland international Jim Hamilton, Williams says he felt like "a spare part" in his family life and feared his lack of skills outside of rugby would make things difficult.

And he says it is important people who are struggling talk to someone, revealing he has lost people close to him who took their own lives because of depression.

Read next: Shane tells Pivac he should have picked 'Wales' Sam Simmonds' 18 months ago

"It's been massively difficult," he told Hamilton, who has also experienced similar issues adjusting to life after rugby. "One of the things I worried about was going from a team environment, which I spent over 16 years in, where you are always with someone, to the realisation you have retired and it is you on your own. It is very daunting, very scary. I was petrified.

"It is frightening, it is hard and it took me a lot of time to adjust to. There were players in that team who I had played with for 10 years, lads who knew me better than I knew myself. All of sudden, they are gone."

Williams has gone on to enjoy a successful post-rugby career, starting several businesses, including a coffee enterprise with former team-mates Mike Phillips, James Hook and Lee Byrne. He has also taken on a series of gruelling physical challenges, running marathons, cycling and competing in IronMan events in an effort to replicate some of the feelings he had as an athlete.

But it has taken time for him and his family to adjust to things.

"I certainly felt like a spare part [in family life]," he added. "You spend so much time trying to be good at something that is very unique. Then, when you are pretty good at that and people notice you it is a great place to be and I loved every minute of it.

"But when I retired I found I wasn't that skilled at anything else. I felt I lost that importance. I'd played 87 times for Wales and on Lions tours and then on the Monday it was just this whole new world. Obviously being with the kids was great but I just thought 'hold on, what else am I actually good at?' I'd spent so long trying to be a very good rugby player, I thought 'have I neglected everything else? What skills do I have? Am I even relevant to anyone anymore?' That was in the space of a weekend.

"I felt completely irrelevant for a long time until you find your feet. I have been retired a long time now and I still think sometimes 'what am I doing? Are people thinking 'you're just a rugby player, what do you know in this life'. It is intimidating."

Throughout it all, Williams' wife of 17 years Gail has been beside him. It is that support he says has been crucial to him adjusting to a new life.

"I've known Gail a long, long time," he added. "We started going out when I was 18 and she was 17. She understands me really well. The rugby life was easy. I knew exactly what I was doing and she understood and she dealt with that. I think she was more nervous than I was when it came to the point of retirement. She knew how hard I had trained but we collectively looked at each other and thought 'what happens here?'

"When I retired I kind of went into my shell a little bit because I was worried. I was worried about how me and Gail were going to be in a whole different world. She had been in my rugby world for over 15 years and now I was in the family and business life. It was very difficult for her. I was in the house for about three or four days after retiring and she just told me 'you have to get out and do something'. I couldn't relax, I couldn't sit down. I was getting on her nerves.

"She is great. She has known me a long time and knows me better than I know myself. She has been so supportive. I am very lucky."

Williams was speaking to mark Mental Health Awareness Month, revealing how such issues have tragically affected those close to him.

"I have experienced lows and anxiety," he said. "I have had times I have really struggled. The world is a scary place, no matter who you are, we all get frightened of things and anxious of things. I have friends who have suffered massively, especially during the pandemic.

"I have lost people over the years to depression, to suicide. It is something that affects us all and the important thing I have found when I have been down is just speaking to someone. It is really important it is addressed and everyone is OK."

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.