Securing a sustainable and profitable future as a union or franchise depends on your ability to apply the same principles you require for your business, to your resources and assets.
Every industry is faced with inherent risks, and those risks have to be managed correctly if any company hopes to obtain sustained success in their specific industries.
Professional rugby is a high risk, high turn-over industry for both unions and franchises as-well as their most important resources in their players they employ and manage. The very nature of rugby union almost implies that players should not get a ‘normal salary’ but instead receive danger pay, because every time they go out to apply their trade either in practice or in matches, they put their careers and their futures on the line risking injury, which also puts their employers’ business and sustained future success at risk by standing to lose out on their resource or investment.
For most part managing these risks in professional sport is a lottery, but it should not be.
When analysing risks in any industry succession plans need to be implemented to minimize these risks to the point where the company will need to rely less on miracles or hope (that it would not happen to them) and more on supporting structures or mechanisms to minimize the impact such risks brings to their assets or future growth potential.
Setting up these structures is not simply a plug and play implementation, but requires time to build, maintain and strengthen your structures which may even include breaking down certain aspects of these structures in order to ensure the final product remains strong.
What rugby unions and franchises should effectively aim for is to have a system in place where once a player is identified and incorporated into these structures (your investment in him begins), will be to ensure he does not get lost in it, and/or make it as difficult as possible for him to leave this system.
This structure will consist of multiple levels, each with its own goals and objectives to both union and player but importantly, link up and work jointly with all other levels within the main structure to ensure a mapped progression and growth for both union and player.
In any career an employee mainly requires job security, this will include satisfying of monetary requirements as well as a growth path to ensure job security and longevity in that specific choice of career. Rugby has unique risks, but the building blocks or foundation of success in the professional environment remains exactly the same.
From time to time, as with any business, you will cut out or cut down certain resources or strategic alliances and allegiances if it falls out of scope with company objectives or goals, as much as you will add to those structures or departments at all levels.
Rugby union will be the same. All businesses invest in resources or development same as rugby does in coaches, administrators and players. Some of these investments are successful and some not. Rugby, like all professional companies need to make strategic decisions and identify possible threats to these overall objectives in time and ensure overall strength in these structures are maintained.
This means in rugby terms that you will sometimes have to let players go and cut your losses, while also import or acquire new resources even at the higher ends of these structures (professional or highly paid and experienced players) to maintain the overall integrity of your business. The trick again as with any business is to try and minimize this and to do this on your own terms, and not be forced into potential disruptive acquisitions.
This is accomplished of course by ensuring the building blocks, or foundation of your business is sound where in rugby this will mean your feeding and youth structures operate at optimal efficiency.
As mentioned in the beginning of this article this will require time, but without proper planning failure will be imminent and success short term.
In accordance with setting up and managing the internal structure processes effectively, rugby unions and franchises will also have to adapt and adopt to trends and and when, but preferably before they occur. This means constant re-assessing of the company and market to continuously update all potential threats and strengths internally to fall in line with global and national trends.
With the threats Southern Hemisphere rugby is currently exposed to like the player exodus to other unions and the Northern Hemisphere, it is vital that we start re-assessing our internal structures and positions in the rugby market both locally, and globally.
We will also have to constantly remind ourselves that because of the unique challenges rugby players face specifically through possible injury and even career ending injuries every time they take the field, monetary incentives are not the only bargaining tool in the global market when competing for resources.
A proper internal structure that offers players not just a monetary security but also social, cultural and future securities through a properly mapped out career path within any organisation (or player roadmap) could go a long way to ensure sustained success as is currently the case in the business world.
You will not always be able to hold onto everyone, because as I did myself at one stage of my life, chasing money will be more important for some as it was for me, but as with any profession, you are quickly exposed to the inherent risks of any industry if there is no career path mapped out for you.
Currently in a South African context one union is getting this right, and if SA Rugby union and even the remaining SANZAR unions and franchises want to limit the threats they are currently exposed to, they will do well to adapt and adopt the Bulls rugby union’s structures into their own franchises as well as on a national scale.Tweet