Former New Zealand All Black Sean Fitzpatrick and ex-England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward explain why rugby and business go so well together.
George Gregan, Australia’s talismanic former scrum half, is one of the country’s most successful rugby union players. His international career spanned 13 years and saw him win 139 caps. Only two people have represented their countries more in the history of rugby – New Zealand’s Richie McCaw and Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll.
Yet just five years into his international career and at the peak of his powers – the same year, in fact, that Australia won the Rugby World Cup – Gregan started his own business: GG’s Espresso shop, based in Sydney’s bustling business district.
To a football fan this might sound like an odd move, a bit like David Beckham drawing up a business plan for a greasy spoon café. But there lies, in a nutshell, one of the major differences between a game in which you throw the ball and one in which you kick it.
Rugby union went professional in 1995, and although the amount of money pumped into the sport has steadily increased, players’ wages are still small compared to that of football.
All-Black Dan Carter will become rugby’s highest-paid player after the World Cup, yet even on his new wages it would take him more than 20 years to amass the annual salary of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo also enjoys bonuses and endorsements that take his earnings beyond £50 million a year – exactly 100 times more than the fourth highest-paid rugby player, Sam Burgess.
Rugby’s historical frugality is a major reason for its close and practical ties to business, says Sean Fitzpatrick, who recently spoke at Grant Thornton’s Inspiring Business event, part of a series dedicated to stimulating ideas among business audiences.