December 16, 2019

McWhannell wins 2019 Personal Development Award

Gallagher Chief Laghlan McWhannell was named winner of the New Zealand Rugby Player Associations 2019 Personal Development Award. McWhannell was named as a finalist alongside Gallagher Chiefs teammate Tyler Ardron.

All New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association members are encouraged to work on their own growth and development off the field during their professional playing careers. This is a key part of their preparation for the life after rugby and it help provide important balance, value and success to their life away from the field.

Players are making some impressive achievements in this space as they become more aware of the importance of being prepared for their next step away from rugby. Many players also recognise and appreciate the value and results that placing a strong emphasis on their own personal growth off the field provides. The annual NZRPA Player Personal Development Awards celebrate some of these achievements.

Winner – Laghlan McWhannell
At just 20 years of age, Laghlan (Laggy) McWhannell is making the most of his personal development and has been committed to growing all aspects of his life on and off the field since he first entered the professional rugby environment.

Since joining the Waikato Academy in 2017, the self-motivator has lapped up every opportunity that has come his way, which has resulted in him creating an abundance of opportunities for himself. His hunger to learn and positive attitude mean Laghlan is always one of the first people to volunteer when any help is needed. His personal development programme has seen him completed all of his independent diving certificates and he is now focused on attaining his divemaster certification.

He partnered with The WaterBoy charity, which is focused on breaking down the barriers that prevent young Kiwis from participating in sport. To do this they work with families who may not be able to pay for sports fees, gear, coaching and training. Through The WaterBoy, Laghlan mentors a young person who comes from a challenging background. This is an ongoing commitment that sees Laghlan help the young person to focus on four key areas of life: belonging, goal setting, self-discovery and citizenship.

The lock has completed levels one and two with World Rugby Coaching, knowledge which he utilised when he helped out at Waikato Under 14 and 15 camps. He has also entered the property market having bought his first house in 2019.

Wanting to increase his musical knowledge, Laghlan began taking piano lessons online using a piano that he purchased off Trademe. He also learned some barista skills and improved his cooking through his team personal development sessions. Keen to volunteer for the local fire service, Laghlan wanted to sign up as a volunteer but his Super Rugby commitments mean that he’s had to put on hold until he is not traveling as much.

Laghlan also used his personal development to enhance his public speaking skills and put himself in some new speaking situations, which included being an MC for a launch and taking part in discussion panels including the Korero Bro Suicide and Wellbeing panel.

At the same time, his rugby has spanned a wide spectrum from playing in the Jock Hobbs under 19 competition to being selected for the New Zealand U20’s and making his debut for both Waikato and the Chiefs. He also had to deal with injury, which he’s done with his trademark positive attitude.

Finalist - Tyler Ardron
Tyler Ardron has been a great example of a player who embraces and leads his own personal development. As an advocate for the Personal Development Programme, Tyler attended all the team workshops consistently adding value through questions he asked and experiences that he was able to share.
During the Super Rugby season, Tyler completed his World Rugby Coaching level 2 and showed initiative in sourcing support for his individual personal development interests. This was made evident by him gaining his restricted motorcycle licence as well as taking French lessons in order to strengthen his understanding of one of the official languages of his home country of Canada.

Tyler understands the importance of getting away from the rugby environment both physically and mentally. He made the most of the days off by organising hunting trips, and by organising experts to show a group of interested players how to carve up and store the meat from their hunting trips.
Tyler led self-care team sessions, which included yoga and meditation, and he has been a strong advocate for personal development, so much so that he even came up with ideas for sessions that he believes would benefit other players. Tyler was recently named the Captain of the famed all-star Barbarians team who played an international match against Brazil. The lock will be back for the Chiefs in the upcoming season having captained Canada in the recent Rugby World Cup. After Typhoon Hagibis in Japan he and his team helped with the clean-up in Kamaishi which was recognised by the Japanese locals.

McWhannell wins 2019 Personal Development Award