A life in hospitality off the rugby field is becoming an in-thing for professional players.

Going on your OE after playing in New Zealand definitely opens up the mindset outside rugby for the boys.

In the past, former players have embraced bars as a new source of income, but a growing number of players are stepping into the more genteel side of the hospo scene.

A host of stars have opened up about their successful hospo business forays in an article on the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association website.

Advertisement

Former All Blacks Casey Laulala and Colin Slade have cafes in France.

Early last year Laulala opened Itacoa on the Rue Saint-Denis in Paris. Slade's BEANZ Cafe which opened in 2017, is in Pau , close to the picturesque Pyrenees mountains.

Laulala fell in love with Paris while playing for Racing 92 and Slade and his family developed their devotion for France when he was playing for Pau.

When back in town last year, Laulala was most insistent about Spy visiting his cafe next time we were in Paris.

Many Kiwis make the exodus to Itacoa — and sometimes they score a selfie with the man himself, as Clarke Gayford did when Jacinda Ardern was visiting the city last year.

Laulala and his business partner, Brazilian chef Rafael Gomes, biked around Paris looking for the perfect spot and Laulala even has his own brand of coffee, Lecase Paris.

When Laulala used Lecase to make espresso martinis, former Racing 92 and All Black teammate Dan Carter was his number 1 taster.

Meanwhile, time playing for Japanese teams has inspired former Chiefs players Michael Leitch to bring a slice of Kiwi in the form of Cafe+64 to Fuchu, Tokyo which opened in 2015.

Advertisement

Their special is Avocado Smash by master chef Liam Messam. The venue is a must-visit for Kiwis during the RWC.Another former Chiefs' player, Tevita Koloamatangi, opened Coffee 101 in Nelson with family last year; they proudly serve Allpress brews.

It was protein that gave former All Black Andy Ellis a taste for hospitality.

Many seasons with the Kobe Kobelco Steelers in Japan, as well as a love for wagyu beef, seem to have ignited his passion for Japanese food.

Along with business partners he opened Mad Samurai in Snickel Lane, off Customs St East in Auckland last year. Current All Blacks have been seen dropping in to enjoy the cuisine.

Reuben Thorne, Eric Rush, Sir Brian Lochore with Carol Hullah - her husband Paul was a Colts captain - at the Eketahuna Rugby 125 jubilee. Photo / Beau Elton.
Reuben Thorne, Eric Rush, Sir Brian Lochore with Carol Hullah - her husband Paul was a Colts captain - at the Eketahuna Rugby 125 jubilee. Photo / Beau Elton.

But former All Black captain Reuben Thorne takes the mantle as ex-rugby star King of Hospo. In 2015 he opened his first cafe in Christchurch, Black & White Coffee Cartel. He now has franchised to eight in Christchurch and Queenstown with the ambition to open more.