From Professional Rugby to Qualified Nutritionist

(by Dan Thurston, our Compliance Technician)

For me, it all started at the age of 11. I had a huge growth spurt and I was basically fully grown by the time I was 12. Naturally, because of my size and my family’s history in sport, I ended up playing rugby. Due to this height and weight advantage, and because of my natural competitive spirit, I did well - very well actually. I was spotted by a county coach during my 2nd club game and fast forward 5 years I was playing for Bristol Rugby Academy where I was playing other academies all over the country. I was training almost daily. My food and training was very specifically chosen to maximise my development and ensure I was performing to the best of my ability. Over this period I had various trials including for South West England and England U18’s. 

At the end of the year aged 18, everything in my childhood and teenage years would be summed up into one important conversation. Everything I had achieved or not achieved over the past 7 years summed up into one day. It was the day that every teenager dreams of within the sporting environment. The day where you get offered or do not get offered a professional contract. It was officially the best day of my life to date, I did it. I signed my first professional contract. The next two years were an absolute dream of mine and my family's.




The professional sporting world is cruel -  tough but rewarding. During my first year I was training, gyming and eating with ‘celebrities’ of the Rugby world. Players who had played international rugby and had played for teams such as the New Zealand All Blacks. It was a dream come true for me.

My first official game came. It was against Exeter Chiefs at Sandypark. It was the first scrum of the game; it was my turn to show off everything I had been training so hard for. “Snap”, I felt a massive pain go through my leg. It was broken. The following 10 weeks included nothing more than rehab and recovery, various scans and trips to the specialist surgeon.

During this time I had a lot of time to think what I wanted with my life. This injury had made me realise, rugby is short, professional sport in general is short and I needed a “B plan”. Food was my passion and before rugby I completed work experience within a Michelin Star Restaurant and, although that wasn’t for me, I did know that a job within the food industry would be my “B” plan. I have always been passionate about recipe creation, product development and overall well-being. It was decided, I wanted to go to University to study Nutrition. I moved to Cardiff and studied extensively for the next 3 years. During which I was still a professional rugby player combining my studies and training daily. As you could imagine…this was tough on my body and mind.

This period was extremely rewarding and through hard work I managed to secure a 3 month placement at Graze, a very innovative and upcoming company within their New Product Development Team. During this period I was fortunate enough to lead product development with one of their most successful product lines. I was employed to seek a solution to one of their products major issues at the time. I developed a trial and error process using ingredients I had previously not heard of. By the end of my placement I had solved this issue and addressed other product issues as well. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Graze and couldn’t have asked for anymore guidance or support.

Fast forward another year, March 2020 I was beginning to apply for graduate jobs and expand my knowledge and experience further. Granted I did not graduate until July 2020 and so many employers turned me down. Interview after interview. Then I spotted a role available at Vivo Life. I dived into some research into the company and discovered that this company cared not only about profits and products but focusses equally on people and planet. This struck me as extremely unique and I was looking forward to my interview for the role for a Compliance Technician aka “The Protector”.

The day had come, this was my final interview that I had lined up and was literally my last chance to make something of myself prior to graduation due to upcoming exams and assessments. During the journey of my interview from Bristol to Glastonbury I received a phone call from a company I had had an interview with that week prior… I was unsuccessful. As you can imagine, this put a virtual rain cloud over my journey.

I arrived to the interview feeling quite nervous and negative but put on a brave face, this was my time to shine. Show Vivo who I was and all I have and can achieve. It couldn’t have gone better in my eyes, there was laughter, there was shock, there was even somebody who had previously worked with one of my family members.

On the journey back I felt relaxed, awaiting for the final decision. I arrived home and my phone rang.. it was the agency… I was successful!!! Everything I had worked for seems to be paying off! 10 months later and I am still within my role. Loving every moment and flourishing. I couldn’t be happier.