Hail the Chief
Chiefs prop able to seperate rugby and army duties
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: 07/03/11 12:38pm
Not a man to do things by half
Exeter prop Chris Budgen insists he has no problem sharing his rugby commitments with his role in the armed forces.
The powerful New Zealander holds the proud honour of being the only Aviva Premiership player currently serving in the British Army.
At 38 years of age he is experienced enough in both camps to know how best to juggle his responsibilities, with it important that the two are able to work side by side.
Budgen is pleased with how things are progressing for him this term, both on and off the field, with Exeter's success in their debut top flight campaign helping to make his remarkable professional life all the more rewarding.
"It's going pretty well," he told skysports.com at a tomahawk throwing activity which has formed part of Exeter's team-bonding exercises.
"In terms of the army, my boss is happy. He is very happy that we are in the Premiership. And the club have been very supportive. It's all worked well."
Budgen, who has previously turned out for Northampton, insists he has never considered putting his army career on hold in order to focus his full attention on his rugby.
He said: "No, I have never really thought of things like that. I play rugby there as well, so it crosses over. A rugby career is only very short, so I knew that I could do both. It's just making sure you give enough time to each area of your life."
Budgen could have been forgiven for thinking that he had stepped out of the limelight upon joining Exeter in 2008, allowing him to play more for fun outside of his army life.
The club's promotion last season has thrust back into the big time, though, and he insists he was always confident that the club would make that step up.
He said: "When I came down here to have a look around, I knew where they wanted to go. They have got a good set-up, very professional, and they wanted to get into the Premiership. I knew they would get there. The army side of things never really came into it."
Budgen is not your stereotypical sportsman, though, and he admits that he sees rugby more as a hobby than a job.
"Once I have finished with my rugby, I'm back to work and that's my day-to-day life," he said.
"It does help on the rugby side of things and I don't let it distract from my work. It's all beneficial. There are a lot youngsters who are pushing hard for a contract that don't have anything else, so it's important that I keep focused at all times."
A lot of the skills Budgen puts to use on a daily basis in the army are transferable to the rugby field, with Exeter's success this season built on team spirit and strong leadership.
On the almost family bond which exists at Sandy Park, Budgen said: "We have got a great group of guys here and this season we have really gelled well together. We are a tight group on and off the field. We have a good time off the field with a lot of banter and we have a good laugh and that then carries onto the field. That has been a big part in our success."
Rugby players and members of the armed forces are renowned for their work hard, play hard mentality and Budgen admits he has his hands full trying to keep everyone in line.
"They are both as bad as each other!" he laughed.
"No, they are both a great set of people to work with. Work is pretty easy and now we are a Premiership side everyone is keen to make sure this is a special time for the club."
For behind the scenes action at Exeter Chiefs and all the other Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs, visit Behind the Badge at www.youtube.com/premiershiprugby