Denver, Colorado, November 21, 2015 — Pro Rugby Agency answers questions about the viability of rugby as a professional sport, the sports popularity in the United States, and where it grows from today.
Taking his business experience to get into the business of professional rugby, Greg Tanner talks with Evrybit about Pro Rugby Agency, his book, and the “wild west of rugby”.
Evrybit: Welcome Greg, and thanks for taking the time to sit down for this interview. Let’s start with telling us why your focus is in sports and more specifically rugby.
Tanner: I spent the last four years looking at rugby and whether or not there is an opportunity to make money in or around the sport. Around 2012, I concluded that it was the time to get involved and start laying ground work for what will be a breakout sport in the United States.
Evrybit: It’s quite a change from running Aspen Capital Fund, focusing on Hispanic markets and early stage funding. What is your biggest challenge?
Tanner: It’s actually not much different. Surprisingly, there are a lot of common business challenges and problems that need to be solved. But looking at opportunities, applying a proven methodology, and selling is applied the same way. There is a lot less risk and it’s a lot more fun, the rugby people are great to work, and when it comes down to it – as much of a cliché it is very much a personal relationship business.
Evrybit: So there is a viable business in the sport of rugby? Is it professional in the United States?
Tanner: The professional game is coming in 2016. There are many professional leagues throughout Europe, and the southern hemisphere. There is a very high level of competition across America the most successful to date is the Pacific Rugby Premiership, we have seen the rise of the American Rugby Premiership and now the “PRO League”. There is plenty of rugby in America. But, I see that rugby will need to take a page from history and grow organically and use the best practices that we see in the successful professional leagues, even learn from Major League Soccer, who nearly failed trying to follow the NFL model.
Evrybit: So how does Pro Rugby Agency play a part if rugby isn’t professional?
Tanner: Just because it isn’t professional doesn’t mean there isn’t money in the sport. There is tons of money spent on and around rugby. Consider 900 college teams and 700 clubs here, competitions, tournaments, entertainment, hospitality, gear, travel, etc. It’s a big sport where brands are very excited to be associated with and are seeking ways to get involved. That’s the problem we solve we help the athletes, teams, leagues, events create revenue and we help brands get involved with mature and commercially viable mediums. We are a selling function of marketing. We constantly sell rugby to everybody.
Evrybit: Why don’t we see it broadcast on television or even radio?
Tanner: That is another challenge we help our clients with, building strategic maturity. Just as any other business you must be mature in all aspects of business to be attractive commercially. Rugby is good and playing the game and competing, but not so well at the other business operations, for instance they know how to market but they really need to market and sell. All parts of the business of rugby need to work at the mature level of the competition.
Evrybit: Is this what your book is about?
Tanner: “The Business of Rugby” is a very light version of this. We talk about what I feel is obvious for everyone in professional rugby or has been around professional rugby. I really wrote it based on what I think what American entrepreneurs do wrong to rugby, which is try to go too big too fast and turn it in to an NFL. The NFL didn’t get to where it is today in a decade it’s been built on 50 years of growth and maturity.
Evrybit: Can rugby be as popular as American Football? It’s seems like such a small sport in America.
Tanner: Certainly can be. I think at this moment there is a thirst for consuming the game on the level we see other professional sports here in the U.S. There just isn’t a mature medium for networks to cover it, make money on it and give a professional grade production. It’s actually a very big sport in America the problem is that businessmen have taken sports like lacrosse, bowling and even darts to a commercial maturity that appeals to brands and mass consumption. When rugby gets traction it’s going to breakout like MMA did. In 1993 no one knew what that was. Now it takes no explanation on a global level. That’s why I think it is the “Wild West” of rugby right now.
Evrybit: Where does the sport grow from today?
Tanner: I see rugby growing just like the NFL did with two leagues, because logistically the country is too bit to overcome the travel and cost in early stages. I see that the working competitions will mature and grow from the current momentum they have. If they overcome the revenue generation problem and grow with strategic development, they will succeed. As an industry rugby will only become more competitive and you will see more and more specialization such as women’s rugby, sevens, and collegiate. There are some many aspects, regions and segments in the United States. The more I get involved the more I find opportunities. Imagine being at the beginning of the industrial revolution, that is really where rugby in the United States is. It’s a great time to be a part of the sport.
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About Pro Rugby Agency USA:
We are a forward thinking agency and business. At Professional Rugby Agency we are the early adopters of the belief that rugby will become the next high growth sports industry in the United States. Very involved in the industry, we are working to develop surrounding aspects of the professional era. Our founder has written the book -“The Business of Rugby“. At Professional Rugby Agency we are taking the initiative to help players, teams, brands with earning, marketing, maintaining and connecting with audiences in the United States and Globally. Join us on our extraordinary journey.
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