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.


There are few that compare to this legendary Barbarian

President of the Barbarian Football Club and one of the greatest Rugby legends, Micky Steele Bodger takes a step back in time, as he speaks about when he made his official debut for England in 1947. Micky mentions the enthusiasm shown by Rugby supporters following the end of World War II. His international Rugby career was sadly cut short, as after achieving nine caps for England, Micky relives the day he suffered a career-ending knee injury and how he was lucky to escape having his leg amputated as a result.

An early end to Micky’s playing career by no means ended his passion for Rugby, as he went onto become the manager and selector for the England team, a selector for the British and Irish Lions, President of the Rugby Football Union and Chairman of the International Rugby Board. Micky admits that being a selector for England was the most difficult role to fulfill among all the esteemed positions he has held, as covering the country during the 1950’s to pick the best players for the national team was challenging.

Having spent so many decades involved in Rugby, Micky is immensely proud to see that the comradery and team spirit that exists among players has not disappeared over time. Micky is concerned though that injuries could become a regular occurrence as the professional era of Rugby evolves, due to the size of players ever increasing.

Micky has been President of the Barbarian Football Club since 1988 and he says that seeing how the players, who are selected from all over the world, come together and form a strong team bond within a matter of two practices together is the greatest quality of this prestigious club. Micky discusses his favourite moment with the Barbarians, which came when he was a player, and looks ahead to the game against the All Blacks at Twickenham on November 4th and the chance the Barbarians have of winning the encounter.

One of the values of Rugby Micky admires the most is how players give it their all on the field and never complain about the heavy tackles and knocks they receive, unlike many Football players he draws a comparison with. At 92 years old, Micky says he does not expect supporters of Rugby to remember him when he passes on, but hopes the sport will continue to unite players and fans alike across the globe for many years after he is gone.


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“I think the remarkable thing about Rugby is the comradery that still exists. A lot of us were frightened when amateurism gave way to professionalism. The reaction of people and their behaviour is really just as it ever was and one gets immense pride to see the friendly spirit that still exists.” – Micky Steele Bodger (President of the Barbarian Football Club / Former England International)

The England captain with a heart of gold

One of the all-time Rugby legends, Lawrence Dallaglio reflects on how the collective achievements he experienced in both the England national team and with London Wasps are the moments that remain his fondest, following one of the longest professional and most spectacular of Rugby careers. Lawrence discusses his reasons for joining Wasps and his emotional attachment to the club. Even though opportunities were available for him to move to other clubs in the UK and overseas during his career, he remained loyal throughout his 18 years at the London based side.

With his career having spanned over both the amateur and professional eras, Lawrence speaks about the transformation he experienced during this historic period. Hard work physically, mentally and emotionally is what Lawrence says allowed him to have such a long career, while approaching injuries with a positive mindset and other interests to fall back on also assisted him staying in Rugby for so many years. Lawrence admits that he was excited for his transition into life after Rugby upon retirement in 2008, as he put the necessary plans in place a couple of years before hanging up his boots. He adds that having a number of career interests in business made it easier to settle on one, once he had a few months to “decompress” after playing Rugby at such a high level.

Lawrence talks about his current role of founder Partner at BBH Sport and how his business is a creative marketing agency where they harness the unique power of sport to help build brands. Working as a team with strong qualities and skills as an individual, as well as quick decision making, being results driven and having positive interactions with people are some of the traits Lawrence says he has taken from Rugby and implements in his business life.

“With success comes responsibility” Lawrence firmly believes in and is the driving force being the incredible charity work he does through his foundation formed in 2008 and ‘Dallaglio Rugby Works’, which assists young disadvantaged people, who have been excluded from mainstream education and by using the values of Rugby, take them on a three year journey to get them into fulltime education and employment. Lawrence mentions why the Dallaglio Foundation is a charity partner of The Rugby Business Network, as they both use the same values of Rugby, are support systems and a means of collaborating with other people, which makes it a perfect match. He also elaborates on how his foundation welcomes all types of support from businesses, from financial assistance to helping run workshops.


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“Sport is a results driven business and you are judged based on what you have achieved. It’s about the ability to get the best out of yourself, which is really important, but also to get the best out of others and out of your colleagues. That’s really interesting when you switch from the sport field to business, it’s about having a clear understand of what you want to achieve.” – Lawrence Dallaglio (Founder Partner at BBH Sport / Former England Captain)

A behind the scenes look at the Rugby World Cup

Former Rugby World Cup Tournament Manager, Nicola Alesbrook explains why she chose to study Sport Science and received her Bachelor of Science degree from St Mary’s College. Her degree knowledge was not entirely required when she took up the role of Marketing and Events at Harlequins Rugby Club after college, but says it was not too big of an adjustment for her.

After five years at Harlequins, Nicola moved to the International Rugby Board (now known as World Rugby) in 2005 and spent the next 11 years there. She speaks about how travelling to the different host nations for each of the Rugby World Cups and the comradery formed with the various organising committees, was the highlight of her time at World Rugby upon leaving in 2016.

Nicola’s role developed over the years she was there and details what her role entailed as Tournament Manager, as well as needing to juggle between the planning of separate Rugby World Cups, which overlapped. Nicola talks about the earthquake that struck Christchurch six months before the 2011 Tournament got underway and how that was the most challenging time of her career, with it proving to be a logistical conundrum to solve.

Nicola admits that she never imagined having a career in Rugby, but her love for organising and sport fitted perfectly with the positions she held at Harlequins and World Rugby. Nicola speaks about the difficulty of saying farewell to her colleagues at World Rugby as she left after the birth of your second child, but plans on returning to work as a consultant in 2018 in various businesses, regardless if they are involved with sport or not.


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“Rugby World Cups are becoming more and more complex so there is absolutely the need to start the planning as soon as they have been awarded.” – Nicola Alesbrook (Former Rugby World Cup Tournament Manager)


Keeping an ‘eye’ on Sport and Business success


Leading sports scientist and visual skills coach, Dr. Sherylle Calder, speaks about her intrigue with sport as a child, which is what led her down the path of this career choice and onto receiving her PHD at the University of Cape Town. Sherylle founded her online Visual Intelligence Training Company, EyeGym in 1996 and says while her coaching was initially aimed at elite athletes, it now also assists other professions and children with their visual skills. Nearly 22 years later and Sherylle is still mainly involved in the practical sports science side of the EyeGym online program.

Sherylle discusses how she coaches professional sportsmen and women individually, even in team sport such as Rugby, where she was part of the England coaching staff that won the 2003 World Cup and then assisted the Springbok players in lifting the trophy at the 2007 tournament. Sherylle is now back with the RFU, having been contracted in January of 2017 and says she will have more than enough time to train the players leading up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Having worked with professional Football, Cricket and Netball teams, Sherylle also assists individuals such as Golfers, Tennis players and Cyclists and says while the visual training is the same, the difference is that she gets to spend more time with the elite athletes in the single person sports than she does with each player in the team sports. Even though the majority of the teams and individuals Sherylle works with in each sport involve a ball of some kind, she insists that her visual training skills also benefit athletes in sports such as Boxing, Swimming and Rowing.

Sherylle mentions how EyeGym has also assisted businesses with their visual skills training, as at banking company Nedbank she has helped the employees improve their productivity, while at insurance company Discovery she assisted in decreasing their loss ratio in claims. She adds that when it comes to CEO’s needing to make quick and accurate decisions, EyeGym aids in the ability to take information in and processes it speedily, which results in a better performance of the individual and company. The visual skills training that is used in professional Rugby is adapted slightly for those in the business environment, although the same core principles of the program remain.

With EyeGym having made a massive difference to elite athletes and businesses alike for over two decades, Sherylle is adamant that there is still so much to be achieved through her online program. Cognitive skills of children is a main area EyeGym have begun to focus on is this modern era of “digital decline” as Sherylle says and hopes to accelerate the performance of every individual that contacts them.


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“It has a huge impact on business, CEO’s have to think on their feet and that really involves taking the information in, processing it correctly and then responding. So it impacts every single person that’s involved in any way that they use their eyes.” – Sherylle Calder (Sport Scientist and Founder of EyeGym / Visual Performance Coach at Rugby Football Union)



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