This month, the Sports Society were delighted to hold a virtual Q&A with World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper. The audience enjoyed Mr Gosper’s take on topics as broad as the response to Covid-19, BAME and female representation in sport, the balance between club and country rugby and concerns about the wellbeing of players in the context of concussions and other injuries.
Mr Gosper was understandably asked about rugby’s national and international response to the global pandemic. He explained that financial issues were of concern, given the salaries that had to be paid without fans in the stadiums and revenue from broadcasting. “It is a tough time for global rugby given the growth in viewing after the success of the World Cup in Japan last year”, he said, however unions are being supported during the crisis.
The commitment of World Rugby to greater BAME representation was raised, and Mr Gosper reflected that seeing a black captain lift the World Cup for South Africa was a real step towards achieving this goal. He remarked that the growth in the women’s game has also been amazing, reminding us that the majority of new players registered last year were women.
He later commented on growing concerns about the wellbeing of players and injuries in the sport, especially concussions and calls for further reform to the scrum. Mr. Gosper reaffirmed that the welfare of the players was the number one priority of World Rugby, and that it was important to reduce the rates of injury whilst maintaining cornerstones of the game such as the scrum.
It was a very enjoyable and informative talk for all those who joined us virtually, with Mr Gosper providing a fascinating insight into the strategy and logistics involved in the organisation of World Rugby, as well as his experience as a former rugby union player at the highest level.