The Rugby Business Network Podcast
This global network was set up in 2010 with a vision of building a community that connects rugby, business and charity. Today our network has more than 38,000 members attending our events in more than 60 cities around the world, helping and inspiring each other.
Over the last seven years we have built what has now become the world’s biggest and most influential network for senior business people with a passion for rugby. It is now time that we extend this opportunity beyond our organisers and members so that the whole world can benefit from these motivational stories, experiences and advice.
We bring you The Rugby Business Network Podcast.
Ireland Rugby great Jamie Heaslip opens up to The Rugby Business Network about his spectacular career filled with numerous personal and team achievements, but for now the fast paced life of a professional player prevents him from naming a particular highlight he cherishes above all others. Jamie is an exceptionally loyal and dedicated person, as he is just five caps away from reaching his 100th test with Ireland and has spent nearly two decades at Leinster. He discusses his reasons for sticking with this Irish club for so many years, even when the prospect of playing in Japan came up in 2011.
Having undergone back surgery in March this year, Jamie speaks about how the injury could have potentially ended his career, accepting and moving on from missing out on the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and how he is taking his recovery week by week. With Jamie out for the season, he has used his time wisely by attending Harvard Business School to take up an intensive four-day course in The Business of Media, Entertainment and Sport, which he found insightful.
Jamie is contracted with the IRFU until the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but for the past few years he has been setting up some businesses and investing in others, but still acknowledges that it will be tough to transition into the business environment when he announces his retirement in the years to come. Jamie talks about the great assistance he and his teammates have received from Leinster and the Irish Rugby Union Players Association to try make their transition a bit easier.
Even with Jamie being smart about his future after Rugby by using some of his time to get involved in businesses, he is adamant that his focus is still firmly on playing Rugby. Although he admits that his injury has come with its challenges both on and off the field, but his positive outlook on life is keeping him motivated. When the day comes for Jamie to hang up his Rugby boots, he should have no problem with deciding what his next career move will be, as he insists that the business of sport is where his interests lie and would welcome any assistance from companies in this field. Jamie advises young professional players to work hard on the field, but during their downtime they need to switch off from the distractions created by the media and focus on their career interests away from the game.
“It will be a tough transition obviously, because you go back in at the bottom and you have got to learn and you have to check your ego, but I think the successful Rugby players always transition very well into that world once they apply the same skills that they have had in successful teams” – Jamie Heaslip (Ireland Eighth-Man)
With the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup still fresh in her memory, England lock Abbie Scott speaks about how she started playing touch Rugby at age 10 and progressed through all the formats, which developed her game in different ways, but only recently did playing the sport professionally become an option.
Abbie made her international debut for England in 2015, however the following year she picked up a knee injury, which kept her sidelined for 15 months. She discusses how this threw a spanner into the works with her development, but she kept a positive outlook throughout her rehab to make sure she would be available for World Cup selection. It was a brilliant tournament for England in August, where they reached the final, but lost to rivals New Zealand. Abbie says the heartache of missing out on being crowned champions for a second time in a row still lingers, but she has already set her sights on the next World Cup in four years’ time.
On a personal note, Abbie is feeling excited about having recently signed with Harlequins and is looking forward to the opportunities it will provide on and off of the field. Abbie experienced the life of being a contracted professional Rugby player this year, but with her deal having ended she admits that there will be challenges, however her dedication to training and playing will not waiver.
Abbie talks about the importance of looking at a career now that will compliment her playing Rugby at the same time, as Women players don’t have the same luxury the professional men have, who mostly focus on a career for after retirement. Having already obtained degrees in History and Politics, as well as an MSC in Sports Coaching from Northumbria University, Abbie says she plans on taking more courses, while at the same time looking to gain work experience. Even through juggling between studying, work and Rugby is a challenge, Abbie welcomes it and the assistance made available through the Rugby Players Association.
Women’s Rugby is on the rise according to Abbie, based on what she had experienced firsthand while playing for England at the World Cup, but says there needs to be more coverage to give it that extra boost. Abbie also mentions that communication, teamwork and reliance are the key skills that she has acquired through Rugby and will be put to good use in a career once she retires in the many years to come.
“A lot of the men’s players talk about life after rugby, but for us it is also a case of life in between rugby, so trying to look at a career and what you can do alongside rugby which will compliment it and also will build up your CV and your career for when you stop playing.” – Abbie Scott (England Women’s Lock)
Former French flanker, Serge Betsen says he never intentionally set out to play international Rugby for 10 years, earn 63 caps and win a number of team and individual accolades along the way, as playing with his friends is what got him involved in the sport when he moved to Paris from his country of birth, Cameroon, at age 10.
Serge played club Rugby at Biarritz Olympique for 17 years, before joining London Wasps for the last 4 years of his professional career and he describes his experiences at either team. Having retired from the French national team in 2008 and then completely from professional Rugby in 2012, Serge insists that he ended his career without regrets and looked forward to the next chapter of his life. Although, during his 20 years as a Rugby player, Serge was, and still is, known worldwide as one of the best flankers of the professional era with bone crunching tackles made on his opponents, which earned him the nickname “The Grim Reaper”. Serge confesses that his resilience and determination on the Rugby field came from what a coach had told him as a youngster that teamwork and fearless tackling was more important than scoring tries. The support and values his single mother taught him and his six siblings, influenced and motivated him as a player to constantly improve.
Even though Serge dropped out of University when Rugby turned professional, he is adamant that education is important and completed his courses later, which assisted him with his business career after retirement. Serge is now the founder and Director of Serge Betsen Consulting, which brings together his passion for sport and business. He offers companies workshops on teambuilding, wellbeing and performance and enhancing the mindset of employee’s, by drawing on his experiences as a professional sportsman.
The Serge Betsen Rugby Program is a relatively new venture in Serge’s post-Rugby career with its creation in 2014. Serge speaks about how he developed this business out of frustration with the fact that nearly all the French schools in England do not offer Rugby to its students. So far, Serge has introduced his Rugby program to 10 French Schools based in London and is beginning to assist some English schools that struggle to find coaches.
Apart from his Consultancy and Coaching businesses, Serge’s biggest passion is the Serge Betsen Academy he set up while he was still a player in 2004. This incredible charity is helping up to 500 underprivileged children in Cameroon with their education and health each year. A center was recently built to accommodate these children and Serge says he is in the process of building more, which feature a library, nursery and a computer center to assist with their education. Donations and any other support from businesses is much appreciated, Serge says and talks about his Academy being a charity partner of The Rugby Business Network, which has opened a number of doors through making connections with companies and individuals alike.
“It’s important to keep focus on something else other than Rugby, because you never know, you could injure yourself. If you rely on just one thing, it’s going to be difficult to adapt yourself in the future.” – Serge Betsen (Director of Serge Betsen Consulting / Former France Flank)
World Rugby CEO, Brett Gosper discusses the key areas the organisation focuses on, which is to grow participation, audience and fan base, as well as player health and putting together major tournaments. As for player assistance in their plans for life after Rugby, Brett says that World Rugby is involved by providing funds to the National Players Association, while an Athlete’s Commission is also part of the organisation’s set-up. Brett speaks about his role as CEO, which keeps him extremely busy coordinating all the different departments within World Rugby, while the greatest achievement he has experience with his team is having Rugby re-introduced into the Olympic Games.
Having been involved in advertising for over 25 years and holding some top executive positions at a number of companies, Brett talks about his experiences in that industry and how he transfers those marketing skills into his current position at World Rugby. From his years spent playing club Rugby in France and representing the Australian U/21 Rugby Union team, Brett mentions the traits as a player that have followed him into his business career and the many similarities between the two. Brett is adamant that the priority for World Rugby is about looking after player welfare, more so than putting deals in place for tournaments and other business related interests.
Brett discusses the reasons for changes to be made to the international calendar in 2020, the progress and areas of delay leading up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and the impressive bids put forward by France, Ireland and South Africa to host the 2023 tournament. Going forward, Brett highlights the need for China and India to get more involved in Rugby, seeing Women’s Rugby progress even further and to have continued success at the Olympics and World Cups.
Hear the full Podcast here
“The ability to understand that people of different skill sets coming together to do an overall job is the most aligned thing between Rugby and business.” – Brett Gosper (World Rugby CEO)