Kicking off this weekend's Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s tournament is the Global Rugby Forum, which aims for perspective on the business of our sport.
I've been asked to moderate a panel on the 'State and Future of Rugby'. Given the broad subject, a plethora of experts, and just one hour, we'll focus on the game in the Western hemisphere.
Including Brazil, Canada, the US, and Argentina (unfortunately not directly represented today), the Western hemisphere is home to 4 of the world’s 8 largest countries with nearly 600 million people. The foursome boast a combined GDP of more than $20 trillion, and 3 of world’s top 11 economies.
Rugby kicked off in the late 19th century in Argentina, Canada, and the US, and slightly later in Brazil. Today, they have some 3,400 teams and 250,000 active players. Some 75 percent of the clubs and 50 percent of the athletes are in the US.
The collective annual turnover of the four countries' governing bodies – 'unions' in rugby’s argot – is just less than $39 million; Argentina’s (reported) $20 million is the lion’s share. Canada, at $9.1 million, is next, then the US at $7.5 million. (Canadian and US figures are from audited 2011 financial reports, the latest available.)
Today's roster comprises Graham Brown, chief executive of Rugby Canada; Steve Griffiths, the IRB's director of technical services; Nigel Melville, chief executive of USARFU; and Fernando Mirandez Del Nero Gomes, past director of the Brazil Rugby Confederation.
What would you ask these gentlemen?