Guinness Pro14 Chief Executive Officer, Martin Anayi is pleased with how the newly expanded tournament has started off and speaks about how the slow start by newcomers the Cheetahs and Southern Kings from South Africa was expected.
Having the right people involved is what allowed the expansion of the pre-existing Pro12 competition to happen over a matter of months, according to Martin. He says the main challenges were getting the logistics in place for the introduction of two new teams from another continent and is still a work in progress.
Martin says there is no timeline as to when the Pro14 could expand again in the future, with the focus right now on getting the Cheetahs and Kings fully integrated into the set-up. Even though the tournament has grown in the number of teams competing, there are few games being played due to the way the competition has been structured and Martin insists that this will be in the forefront of their minds when they decide to add more teams in the years to come.
The commercial benefits and player welfare were important factors taken into consideration when expanding the Pro14, Martin says, while he also discussed his own natural progression from Managing Director to CEO with his background in Law assisting him in his role.
Martin talks about the values of Rugby that provide the perfect platform for businesses to associate themselves with the sport at all levels and believes the Pro14 competition is in an ideal situation now to offer potential new investors the opportunity to come on board and gain recognition in both the North and South hemispheres.
“The Rugby Business Network is going from strength to strength around the world and I think that is a testament to the game itself as a value driven sport.” – Martin Anayi (Chief Executive Officer of Guinness PRO14 Rugby)