11 The Daily Telegraph Wednesday 22 July 2020 *** Sport Rugby Union Gavin Mairs cycle. For that reason, CVC’s inclusion comes as no surprise. The London-based firm, which first shot to prominence during its ownership of Formula One between 2006 and 2018, has already secured stakes in Premiership Rugby and Pro14. It is close to securing a 14 per cent share of the Six Nations for around £300 million and is also reportedly showing interest in buying a stake in the British and Irish Lions. “Nick Clarry may not be a familiar name in rugby circles, but he represents CVC’s growing investment – and influence – in the sport,” said Sarah Mockford, the editor of “They are involved in most of the northernhemisphere market. “The pandemic has underlined that rugby’s current model is not sustainable and thus investment from companies like CVC is crucial to the future of the sport. Clarry has spoken of rugby as a 10-year project and CVC’s involvement could see significant change.” The intriguing aspect of CVC’s new entry on to the list is not only that it is a private company – it sits Chief Rugby Union Correspondent CVC must reveal vision for rugby as a major player Rugby World. I t is perhaps a sign of the times that in magazine’s new list of the 50 most influential people in the game, the second highest-ranked Englishman works for a private equity company. Maro Itoje is England’s highest-ranked representative, coming third in the list, which is compiled biennially by canvassing opinions from players, coaches, journalists and administrators worldwide. Springboks captain Siya Kolisi tops the list, with Bernard Laporte, the president of the French rugby federation and recently elected as vice-chairman of World Rugby, second. The next highest-placed English influencer, however, is not Sir Bill Beaumont, the chairman of World Rugby who was re-elected for a second four-year term in May, nor Bill Sweeney, who has just completed his first year in the job at Twickenham and is at the heart of the ongoing global calendar negotiations. Instead, it is Nick Clarry, a managing partner at CVC who oversees private equity activities in the sports, media and entertainment industries, who is in fifth place. Beaumont and Sweeney are the next highest-ranked of 10 English representatives, at 12th and 17th place respectively. England head coach Eddie Jones is eighth, having taken his side to the World Cup final last November, but the magazine recognises him as an Australian influencer. Two years ago, CVC did not even make the top 50. The leading English influencers then were Martin Anayi, the chief executive of the Pro14, Bruce Craig, the owner of Bath, and Mark McCafferty, the former chief executive of Premiership Rugby. The list is, of course, in many ways just a representation of the current agenda, a snapshot of the movers and shakers of the news Rugby World regulatory – side. The investment will result in clubs and potentially unions receiving a smaller percentage of commercial returns in the future. But the counterargument is that CVC will compensate for that by growing the revenue pie. However, some insiders remain to be convinced about exactly how CVC can make a significant return on its investment. That will inevitably lead to pressure on the decision-makers as they consider the future direction of both the club and international games. Duncan Sandlant, global director of Esportif, a company that specialises in rugby talent management, and one of 10 New Zealanders named in the top 50, believes, however, that CVC’s influence will be a positive force. “For the first time in the history of the game we have a private equity entity which has a shareholding and significant influence in the European club game by way of their Premiership and Pro14 investment, and it looks like this could be extended to include the Six Nations,” he said. “This could be the catalyst to significantly change the face of the game where traditionally a key hurdle has been – and continues to be – persuading perhaps inwardlylooking parties to see the big picture and align in driving change.” One thing is certain. At a time when the global power brokers are locked in negotiations about the future shape of the game, CVC’s influence will never be more relevant to the sport. Indeed, in the post-Covid world, cash-strapped unions could look for further investment from private equity by giving up greater stakes. And with that power comes responsibility. At a time of great uncertainty for supporters across Europe, CVC, instead of keeping a low public profile, should instead use its elevated position as influencer to outline its vision for the sport, just as others must do. ‘A key hurdle has – and continues to be – to get inwardly-looking parties to see the big picture’ outside the administration of the game, and the administrators who are held to account across the world – but also that so little is known about the company or its vision for the sport. The line of reassurance offered to those who fear its investment could have a negative impact is that its shareholding is only in the commercial – not sporting or ‘He was someone whose generous spirit and outstanding athleticism graced our sport’
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