Since Rugby has began to rise from the darkness and become a more globally recognised sport, with the likes of the more than successful Rugby World Cup 2015 in England, and not to forget the involvement of the Sevens Rugby in the Rio Olympics, the sport, as any improving establishment does, is having a few teething problems. But not to threat, as World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont states, this is what most sports experience when on the trail to becoming global.
Although we sometimes neglect the negative side of change, I believe for the sport to move forward as a whole we need to address these problems, and adapt to them as quickly and efficiently as possible. This may not be easy for World Rugby as there is a lot to be talked about, from the step forward for Women’s Rugby and such aspects as fan engagement; to the likes of funding from sponsors etc. All of this is to be assessed by World Rugby, not only to allow the game to make a successful break into global recognition, but to also keep the “global Rugby family” which Beaumont dreams of, reachable. If all sides of the game are not catered for, it could in fact be a step in the wrong direction in reaching Rugby’s goals.
These intentions from Beaumont and the WRFU (World Rugby Football Union) have been influenced by the recent investment in the sport across seas, even in Rugby shy countries as China, with Alisports investing $100m over a ten year period; also in the Pacific Islands, in an attempt to regain home grown players from the World’s more recognised leagues. The investment does not stop there as the 2015 World Cup has given Rugby about £246m to splash over the coming years. The goals with this are clear, as the Rugby Governing Body stated that they are looking to “maximise commercial values” and increase the financial stability of the International game, which are essential goals if World Rugby wants to achieve the bigger picture of making the foundations for global Rugby.
I personally believe that this goal is greater than first thought, as the smaller contenders are being ignored by global Rugby media, as people are only interested about their own and the big nations, meaning that un-performing nations may never get the push start they need to access the global Rugby media, meaning that they may never creep into the game completely. This can then have a negative effect on Rugby’s improving global accessibility, leaving less successful nations stranded and neglected in the Rugby limbo, only getting coverage if they are playing a big nation. With the Tokyo World Cup a couple of years away and being set to make a whopping £210m for the sport, which will hopefully give World Rugby the resources they need to support every nation, not just the successful ones.
As for the worry about sponsors, I wouldn’t, as sports sponsors are some of the highest paying in the world, so I’m sure we’ll get ’em, and when the game grows, so will the sponsors, and then will the money, so in my eyes, the potential for Rugby’s growth is limitless!