Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Glasgow Hawks Rugby Football Club Limited


  It has been less than two years since Rugby Union became "professional" and during that period of time it seems that every rule in acceptable and established business practice has been broken.

  English club owners offered remuneration packages, which attracted rugby legends worldwide, and either bankrupted their clubs or created benchmarks which other Unions tried to match irrespective of financial affordability.

  As a result investments are being made in rugby which can never be justified.

  Youngsters are plucked out of employment and universities with income offers which are short term and are being accepted as an alternative to working.

  Many of these youngsters have since been made redundant or are accepting employment with minimal security and career structure.

  The employers, whether private or Union, are unconcerned especially if it provides them with a short period of glory and ego massaging.

  We have the privilege of witnessing the birth of a new sport—"Professional Rugby Union".

  We should be treating it accordingly—with sensitivity and the benefit of experience, which should acknowledge the successes and failures of both business practice and other team sports.

  To date every element of that experience has been ignored.


Governing Bodies

  It is interesting to note that no Northern Hemisphere country has seen fit to change the structure of its governing body since the advent of professionalism.

  Only Scotland has a review study in process under the Chairmanship of Lord MacKay.

  In Scotland the election of amateur rugby people continues in the hope that they will have the business acumen to handle a turnover of £20 million and the expertise required in financial, marketing, personnel and rugby related matters which includes the co-ordination of a professional workforce—employees and players—and an unpaid voluntary workforce of some 2,000 hard working individuals who are critical to recruitment and development of youngsters throughout the country.

  In Scotland the withdrawal of Tennents, the clubs' League and Cup sponsors after one year of their three year contract and a steady trickle of resignations from the SRU are apparently of little concern to those running the game.

  Their focus is totally on representative and international rugby with the result that club rugby is ignored and reduced to a level of mediocrity with no concern or apparent interest in the voluntary administration who will eventually fade from the game.

  Loss of club membership, spectators, sponsorship and players is the current trend.

  It is impossible to grow the game from the top.

  Rugby needs highly paid, highly qualified businessmen as Executive Directors of a complex sporting structure to manage rugby and co-ordinate all levels and ages of the game throughout Scotland.

  A non-Executive Board of businessmen and club association representatives is required as the information link between schools, youth and club rugby, the organisation of representative and international rugby and the Executive Board.

  A seamless structure is essential to allow ambitious youngsters to move from school to international level.

  We should therefore develop "area" clubs providing a focus for groups or associations of clubs and schools and attracting sponsorship from local authorities, companies and communities.

  These area clubs will develop naturally in the rugby populations of Scotland and should be supported and encouraged by the SRU with finance, personnel and time.

  Their flexibility in size would allow development to compete outwith Scotland.

  This structure would be financially viable and involve large numbers of clubs and players and equally important commercial interest.

  The total involvement and support of the SRU is critical.

  Rugby is not a big enough game to justify the current level of remuneration being paid, particularly in England, and governing bodies should therefore work with clubs to ensure their finance and personnel attracts further local and national financial support and targets large areas of the country's rugby populations.

  This will maximise growth and development of rugby within a financially viable framework.


  Players must have a responsibility to their chosen rugby career and the development of their sport.

  Likewise employers must be responsible for their employees.

  It is questionable whether or not rugby needs to be a fully professional game ie full-time rugby.

  Players should develop in every aspect of the game—playing, coaching, sport management, recruitment, working with schools etc.

  In addition they should be given the opportunity to develop other skills or their chosen career for life after rugby.

  There is a serious danger of youngsters leaving school for a rugby career to the total exclusion of further education. This has to be addressed.


  It is essential that rugby as a professional and amateur sport is financially sustainable.

  It is equally important that the link between amateur and professional is strong and that professionalism does not destroy the sport by ignoring its roots.

  Small rugby playing countries like Scotland should rewrite the rugby map by identifying sufficiently strong rugby playing populations within it.

  Clubs and the SRU must co-operate and co-ordinate their efforts to maximise the development of their "areas" with:

    —  Recruitment in every school.

    —  Development of players and coaches to the highest levels.

    —  Marketing of "areas" to individuals, companies, local authorities etc.

    —  Creation of Business Plans to establish objectives and financial requirements of each "area".

    —  Players contracted by SRU must play, coach, recruit, manage and market in "area".

    —  SRU should assist with personnel, time and finance in supporting development and marketing of game in each "area".

    —  "Areas" should be club/SRU driven not SRU owned.

  With all of the above in place Scotland will ensure that the development of the game is professionally grown and that all levels participate.

  This "area" structure is also flexible as it can expand for domestic growth or contract (combine "areas") for competition in Europe.

  It is financially viable and maximises revenue from private and public sources.

  Rugby can only be grown through proactive efforts at grass-roots level—schools and local communities—not through concentration on remote elitism

June 1999

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Prepared 14 December 1999