Next up in our series is Alex Corbisiero, a loose head prop who joined the club’s Academy in 2005, making over 80 appearances.
He went on to represent England and was a British and Irish Lions tourist to Australia in 2013 playing a key role in the first and third Tests. Throw in a Premiership winner’s medal with Northampton Saints and you have a very good career. All this by the age of 27 before Alex retired from rugby and embarked on the next stage of his life, away from the rugby field as he explains.
“Stopping at 27 wasn’t ideal, but in hindsight I feel I’m in quite a good place and at peace with it” said Corbisiero.
“Rugby in general was tough to leave behind, especially when that’s all you know as an adult. I’m finally able to close the book on it and be proud of what I have done and achieved."
Alex has plenty of things to keep himself busy both here in the UK and in the US, where he was born and his heritage lies.
“My main vocation is working for NBC Sports in the US where I am their main rugby pundit across Premiership Rugby, Champions Cup, Six Nations, World Cups, we have an ever-growing reach over there. NBC is dedicated to growing and pushing rugby in the US.
“I live between the US and the UK and being half American, being born there and with the rugby credentials I have and having the passport, was the perfect fit for me at the perfect time. Sometimes right place at the right time is all you need. I’ve just started my fourth season with them and really enjoying it. As a side project, there is also a podcast called ‘The Scrum Down’ which is quite successful and very enjoyable to.”
That’s the media work, but there is plenty more that occupies Alex’s time, business ventures and rugby coaching.
“I own part of a company called ASM Scholarships which is a placement agency for students from all over the world into American universities to find sports scholarships. We build their application, put it together and then go around to the university coaches who are trying to recruit players in certain sports, primarily golf, swimming, tennis, football, rugby, the main international sports that pull well at American universities, and find them scholarships.
“I also have Team Corbs. A company where I do scrum coaching, forwards coaching, clinics, online feedback, if any players or any clubs require feedback on any of their forward play or set piece work, digitally or remotely, I feed that back to them. I also coach at Penn State University in America and with the New Orleans Gold which is an MLR team. I commentate on the MLR games which is broadcast on several networks too.”
So professionally it’s all working out really well for Alex, but also personally too, with the news that he is engaged to his fiancé Abby Gustaitis, the USA 7s National team captain.
“We got engaged last year and live together in San Diego. She plays on the women’s USA National 7s team and is working towards the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which is the big goal for her right now. I think all eyes on American rugby are looking towards those Olympics, it’s the real highlight.
“We actually met at the 2018 Rugby 7s World Cup in San Francisco. I’m really fortunate, she is very impressive and I’m glad I’ve found a partner to share life with who is pretty special.”
London Irish played, as Alex explains, a huge part in his adult career. He spent eight years at the club and had some special days in the green jersey.
“My first memory has to be my debut in 2008. A few days after my 20th birthday, I had been at the club for a few years in the Academy and got to start the London Double Header against Wasps at Twickenham in what was my breakout first season. That moment of putting on the shirt and starting on the opening day of the season and we won, that memory will always stick with me.
“At the Madejski, the win against Munster, playing in what was the Heineken Cup were great days. The season we got to the final and the semi-final away against Quins where we won 17-0 was special. Playing against our local rivals, we were very much the underdogs, playing away in the semi and keeping them scoreless at home was a special moment for a special team.”
Alex was involved with the club during some of its most successful times, playing with some great players and working with some brilliant coaches really made his time with the club what it was.
“My best memories of London Irish are the players and the moments we shared on and off the field. Especially when I was young at the club, we had a very special vibe. Guys like Mapusua, Mike Catt, so many seasoned internationals. The culture and vibe will stay with me for the rest of my life, they were some of the best days I experienced in rugby. It was the family for me for so long. It was special.
“The support staff for me is important to reference too. Someone like Neal Hatley will be a friend and someone I look up to for the rest of my life. He mentored me through this club and, his last year of playing was my first year in the Academy before he became my Academy Manager.
“I feel like he had one of the biggest impacts on my career of any coach and that was directly through this club. He was almost like a second father figure to me for a long time and I’ll always remember that.”