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.


Nurturing relationships with sponsors to keep Rugby moving forward

Premiership Rugby Chief Executive Officer, Mark McCafferty says working at Midlands Bank, Thomas Cook Group and Avis previously, helped prepare him for his role at the English professional Rugby union competition when he came on board in 2005. Mark highlights what attracted him to the position at Premiership Rugby and the challenges that come with running the business side of Rugby, when most of the attention is geared towards the performance of players and clubs.

Mark speaks about the set of values the organisation adheres to, namely being professional excellence and having a personal touch. These values tie into how Mark and his team formulate and nurture the relationships they have formed with stakeholders and investors in Premiership Rugby.  Sponsors of Rugby clubs and organisations do not have a natural life span in the sport according to Mark, who explains that Premiership Rugby has had longstanding relationships with some of their commercial partners and the importance of refreshing the partnership to sustain it for as long as possible. Mark says from the perspective of businesses supporting the Rugby community, the values the sport possess and the growth element that exists in the game makes it attractive to investors.

HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme which currently works with over 2,000 teenagers across England every year.  Mark details when the charity was formed, what they are able to achieve using the power of Rugby and the charity’s incredible growth with over 12,000 teenagers helped in the last eight years.  Mark also mentions the importance of organisations like The Rugby Business Network existing and offering their support to the Rugby community.

Mark talks about how he takes time away from his demanding schedule to keep physically fit in order to remain mentally sharp and the importance of stepping back every once in a while from a 24 hour industry like Rugby to recharge.  Mark concludes by saying that in Rugby there are a large number of stakeholders, unlike conventional businesses, and with that comes many lessons to be learnt from building a consensus with each individual entity in the sport.

Charity gives heroes a second chance in life

Recovery Director at Help for Heroes, retired Colonel David Richmond discusses his role at the UK military charity, which empowers injured veterans to achieve their full potential. He also mentions how he trains and manages the UK Invictus Games Team.

David served in the British Army for 26 years, which included stints with inventory units in Bosnia and Iraq, as well as being the highest ranked British officer in Afghanistan as a Lieutenant Colonel.  He insists that he enjoyed all his years in the Army and has no regrets, despite being shot in the leg and undergoing a number of surgeries four years after the ordeal to regain the 10 centimeters of bone he lost in his right femur. Having been able to save his leg and the intensive rehabilitation which followed at Headley Court, David received a CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List in 2012 and says it’s an award he is proud of and dedicates it to his family, who had to endure the lengthy recovery process with him.

As a retired Colonel, David talks about the leadership qualities that he learnt in the Army and how that can be transferred to professional Rugby players.  David also highlights why Help for Heroes uses Rugby to raise awareness about the charity and to generate funds.  Help for Heroes is a charity partner of The Rugby Business Network and David speaks about how this relationship was formed and the networking opportunities that exist in assisting injured servicemen and women when looking for careers in business after their years in the Military.

David lists the various fundraising initiatives set up for Rugby fanatics and businesses to get involved with to show their support for the charity.  With the Help for Heroes funded facilities at Headley Court being transferred to a bigger, newer, purpose-built facility at Stanford Hall in Leicestershire in 2018, David says this move will not affect the work he does and is looking forward to the many more wounded veterans that can be supported.

From the Rugby field to your TV screen

Sales & Business Development Manager at IMG Media, Sam Stitcher speaks about his Rugby playing career at Yorkshire Carnegie, Harlequins, London Wasps and Esher between 2005 and 2012, and how he handled going from being a semi-professional player to a fully-fledged professional. Sam still plays Rugby for Eastern Suburbs in Australia, where he admits that it was neither the sport nor business that forced him to move from the UK to ‘Down Under’, but a girlfriend at the time.  Although his business career has taken off, as Sam explains the various roles he has at the largest independent producers and distributors of sports media, IMG.

Even though Sam is just 31 years old, business has been a part of his life for many years, but insists that neither his corporate career nor his Rugby career take priority over the other and both form a part of his identity.  Sam says it was natural for him to peruse a life in business while also playing Rugby, as he was often overlooked for the starting team at each club he was at.  However his Rugby background brought with it opportunities that allowed him to network with some top businesses and ultimately landed him a job at IMG. Sam details the processes involved in obtaining broadcast rights to different types of sports and events, as well as how the company goes about selling and distributing the rights of Rugby games, both club and international. IMG acquired the rights to UFC in 2016 and Sam reflects on the broadcast deals that were setup for the super-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGreggor in Las Vegas in August this year.

Sam speaks about how the quality of Rugby in the Southern Hemisphere is still high, despite a dwindling number of spectators attending Super Rugby games at stadiums in recent years and how he believes that broadcasters making the sport more accessible on television worldwide is not the reason for the decline.  Sam also feels that broadcast rights for Rugby competitions will become more in demand in the future, which is a positive for the sport and its ability to reach a larger audience across the globe will increase. Each professional Rugby player needs to decide for themselves when they should start making plans for life after Rugby according to Sam, but highly recommends they remain proactive throughout.

The importance of networking

Former England Women Sevens Captain, Abi Chamberlain discusses how she only started playing Rugby at the age of 21 in University and that playing for England was never the goal initially.  Having also played the 15-a-side form of the sport for her country, Abi explains why she favoured Sevens and reveals the greatest moment of her career.

Abi speaks about a low point in her career when she was dropped from the England Sevens squad, which forced her to look at moving on from the sport and onto the next chapter of her life.  Before retiring, Abi had the privilege along with 19 other players, to become first ever female professional Rugby players in England and she details what this meant to her on a personal level and for women’s Rugby in the country as a whole.

When it came time for Abi to transition in a business career, she says figuring out where she could add value and how could the skills she learnt in Rugby be applied in Business are some of the plans she put in place during her Rugby career.  Abi speaks about how The Rugby Business Network assisted her through the Life After Rugby program and how attending the networking events helped introduce her to different people in the corporate environment.  Abi is currently a Performance Coach and Trainer at Paysafe Group in London and she mentions some of the challenges she has had to tackle and overcome during her first year in the corporate world.

Accountability is the main transferable skill Abi says she has taken from her Rugby playing days and applied to her Business career, while ensuring that each player on the Rugby field adds value to the team is a leadership trait she is also using at Paysafe Group. Abi says growing your network and understanding your core values is the best advice she can offer retiring professional players looking to transition into a career in business.




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