It’s not just about the field of play...

The global mobility effect of rugby - image source: Shutterstock, Inc. Credit/copyright: wavebreakmedia

The global mobility effect of rugby - image source: Shutterstock, Inc. Credit/copyright: wavebreakmedia

Mobility is a word that can be applied to the areas of business, careers, education, travel, finance, social development and global markets. Rugby on the other hand, is a singular entity relating to a game of speed, athleticism, power and agility which is built on an international platform - thus proving itself to being the quintessential sporting example of global mobility in action. spoke with two leading drivers of the sport: DHL and the Stellenbosch Rugby Academy,  about how the concept of mobility is shaping this global game.

Fiona Taag - Head of Global Sponsorship & Europe Marketing Communications at DHL, explains why rugby has been identified as a leader in the global sports market:

“Rugby resonates with DHL in many ways. The values of the sport – such as teamwork, passion and speed – are values that we try to reflect in our own operations and services. As one of the world’s most international company's, we have a long-standing presence in many traditional hotbeds of rugby support, such as Oceania, South Africa, the British Isles and France. ”

Taag explained that many of their  employees have been actively involved over the last 30 to 40 years in expatriate rugby competitions in markets such as the Middle East and Asia. “We therefore have a strong cultural affiliation with the sport, both internationally and at a grassroots level,” she says. Additionally, thanks to the sheer excitement that the on-field product generates, and the interest in the international tours and competitions - rugby is growing significantly in its global appeal. “We have always sought to associate our brand with world-class sponsorship properties, and rugby is a great commercial fit for our portfolio, which also includes partnerships with Formula One, Formula E, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, for example.”

Alie Brand of the Stellenbosch Rugby Academy highlights why trending factors such as education (sport courses) has become an important part of the game:

“Sport courses are now a must-have component in terms of adding balance to a player’s career. However it is important that these courses be designed to help students go the extra mile to achieving success. Too many players think that they can skip the hard work of education and that playing sport at a high level is limited to just the playing field, which in today's global sports market is very much not the case,” he says.

Brand emphasized that individuals must understand that if they want to be part of a generation of students that have an advantage over other students, they must be equipped with relevant qualifications as well as sufficient practical experience. He adds that one should look out for training institutions that follow a modern approach to learning, where presentation is combined with interactive learning (videos, questionnaires, case studies, mixed content, activities / scenarios, tasks and tests).

“Whether a student has a passion for sport as a player, coach, referee or game analyst and wants to make it a career, or combine it with other relevant courses – there must be a drive from the sporting sector to create opportunities for all to pursue their respective career ambitions.”

The global mobility effect of rugby - image source: Shutterstock, Inc. Credit/Copyright: Sheikoevgeniya
The global mobility effect of rugby - image source: Shutterstock, Inc. Credit/Copyright: Sheikoevgeniya

Tagg furthers the discussion on why the future of rugby is so strong and the global social development of the game is just as important as its growth:

“The growth rates of rugby – both the 15-a-side game and the ‘Sevens’ format,  have been phenomenal and we believe the sport has great potential to grow further - both commercially and in terms of player participation and audiences. We have been really encouraged to see the way in which up-and-coming markets, such as Canada and the US, for example, have embraced the sport, and we believe that the inclusion of the sevens format in the 2016 Olympics also provided a great boost in awareness and interest. The performance of Germany in the recent HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Hong Kong was also incredible – DHL is headquartered in Germany, and we have established a partnership with the German Rugby Union to support its development,” she says.

She acknowledges that even though football is the clear leader here, rugby has a growing and passionate following, and the country is developing some talented young players. The performance of their national team will undoubtedly help to stir further interest in the game in Germany.

DHL is fortunate to be active in over 220 countries and territories worldwide. This means that they can activate global partnerships with the support of their local teams around the world – engaging their own employees, customers and the general public.

“In the case of rugby, our country teams have enthusiastically got involved in the game in a variety of ways. We have promoted our international involvement through customer competitions, storytelling, International Trophy Tours (the 2015 Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour visited 15 countries and involved over 70,000 people) and the opportunity for customer, staff and rugby enthusiasts to meet with our DHL Rugby Ambassadors who are legends of the game. At a grassroots level, we invest considerable time and resource in supporting the development of local rugby across different age groups. Our support can range from logistics support (transporting equipment and kits), sponsorship, coaching clinics with our ambassadors or regular assistance from DHL volunteers in running clubs and community programs.”

It seems the game of rugby is embracing the ethos of mobility from a grassroots to an international level of expansion. Whether the sport is being bridged together by a global enterprise or cultivated by a contributing education platform, it is a game that has quickly become a market leader within the sports industry. Therefore supporting the plausible notion that in a game (and in particular that of rugby), a whole lot more happens around it and not just on the field of play...