Brett Gosper - CEO, World Rugby Share PDF Print E-mail
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As Chief Executive of World Rugby and Managing Director of Rugby World Cup Limited, Brett Gosper is responsible for the strategic and business operations of Rugby’s global governing federation.

As the sport continues to reach out, engage and inspire participants in record numbers worldwide, Brett’s oversees the implementation of World Rugby's record investment, development and player welfare strategies, the delivery of a what is set to be a record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2015 in England, a landmark Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, the growth of the HSBC Sevens World Series and Rugby's successful return to the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.

By Tariq Saleh

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

My background is in marketing and advertising where I had my own agency working various markets, Paris, London and New York mainly, but I had my own agency in London which was a top 10 London advertising agency and then went to work with McCann Erickson, so I ran their biggest agency, which was New York’s biggest agency and was president of the States there as well and then ran the European operations, so I came out of a marketing services background.

I was a rugby player, reasonably modest, I played for what is the Racing Metro now during the 80s, was a junior international with the Australian side and trialled as well for the Wallabies a few times and didn’t quite make it but left to go and live in France when I was 21.

I stayed there for about 15 years and when I felt my career in advertising had seen its time, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said you should really go for this job in rugby, you’ve got some cultural affinity with some of the key markets and maybe your experience in the marketing world will be helpful, so here I am.

The Six Nations recently finished, what did you make of it and with the games that occurred in England and Wales, has that made you even more confident heading into the World Cup?

I think there’s no doubt that Cardiff and London and the RFU and Welsh Rugby Union can put on fantastic matches in the way they stage it, the way they organise it, so we have absolutely no worries about how they’re going to stage the Rugby World Cup.

What’s great is that this has been a tournament that has gone down to the wire and its generated even more excitement for the Rugby World Cup as everyone is jostling for position and psychological position as they go into Rugby World Cup in what is exactly six months from now.

What is the biggest challenge for the organisers as you’re just six months out?

Six months out we’re into the meticulous military detailed part of the execution really and most of the big things are on track. I’d say the biggest challenge is delivering on the potential, we’ve been pretty public in saying that this should be the best and certainly the biggest World Cup that Rugby’s seen and now it’s just a matter of delivering on that promise and there’s no reason why we won’t deliver on that promise.


What kind of response and comments have you received regarding the IRB’s rebranding to World Rugby from the rugby community?

The comments have actually been positive because there haven’t really been any negative statements made about it and to be fair we’re not really looking to be judged on the aesthetics or otherwise of that.

We’re really into the effectiveness of what that will mean for our assets and the efforts that we put behind brand rugby and the efforts we put behind World Rugby, so it was part of a total re-think on the branding and we position rugby in the area of character, that we believe that it is the sport of character and the values are a very important part of our sport and how we manage the game and the way we manage the sport, we seek to preserve those values and character seems a good expression of that.

We took it a step further because we’re on a conquest strategy seeking to get more people in more countries interested and grow the global game, it would seem that a name like World Rugby which typifies and explains what our mission is all about and its more about the movement of rugby rather than a few people deciding on what rugby’s about with the obscure letters IRB, it just seems a reasonably logical step and therefore wasn’t really greeted with much controversy.

You’ll see over time the way we roll this out visually and the words will be embedded into all of our properties across sevens, under-age tournaments, Rugby World Cup will remain the same but visually you’ll see a look of family creeping in as well and all of that gives the sport of rugby more impact all around the world.

You’ve spoken about growing the game and you’ve said before that your ambition is to expand to new territories and especially the Rugby World Cup, however there are certain pitfalls with that, such as FIFA with Qatar, how would you go about avoiding a similar situation to that?

I can’t really comment on the FIFA situation but we go through a rigorous process of bidding for the countries that would take on Rugby World Cup.

As you know in 2019 we’re moving to Japan for the first time I’d say, as non-tier1 rugby hosts, although they’ve got a good rugby tradition it’ll be interesting to see Rugby World Cup in a very different context but confident that’ll be a very successful and a very distinctive World Cup.

We’d like to take the World Cup around the world, at the same time it’s an incredibly important financial engine for the sport because every penny that we earn out of a Rugby World Cup goes back into the development of the game, the grassroots and competitive levels, so you’ve got to find that balance, you want new geographies, but you also want to ensure that the game is well financed in the four years and ahead.


This leads us onto our next question, would you be looking to target the 2023 tournament for a new territory or are you inviting bids from everywhere?

We welcome bids from everywhere and they’ll be seen on their merit and their merit in their competitive context.

We know we’re getting a huge amount of interest for 2023, which this early, is a great sign of the strength of the Rugby World Cup brand but also the sport itself and there does seem to be a little bit of a queue forming to put their hands up and some of the people putting their hands up have had Rugby World Cups before, some of them haven’t, they’re in different regions.

In 2017 the World Rugby council will vote to decide where it goes, so there are a vast number of criteria to ensure that it’ll be successful and we’ll follow that process through, but the exciting thing is there are lots of contenders.

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