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Volume 20 No. 45
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Rugby: Groups in the game

Organizations, and the executives and partners behind them, who are at the center of rugby in North America.

World Rugby
Position: The world governing body, with 120 member unions, it organizes the Rugby World Cup every four years as well as the World Rugby Sevens Series, the World Under 20 Championship and the Pacific Nations Cup.

■ Headquarters: Dublin, Ireland
Key executives: Bill Beaumont, chairman; Brett Gosper, CEO and secretary general; Alan Gilpin, head of Rugby World Cup
Sponsors: Canon, DHL, Emirates, Heineken, Land Rover, MasterCard, Société Générale
Media: NBCUniversal networks will televise the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and the 2023 World Cup after signing a seven-year, nearly $10 million deal last month, which also includes profit-sharing clauses. In addition, NBCU has the rights to international championships in women’s rugby and the Sevens Series, with the next Rugby World Cup Sevens set for San Francisco in 2018.

USA Rugby
Position: The national governing body for rugby in the U.S. It controls official sanctioning of rugby events in America, for both domestic and international players, and oversees the U.S. Olympic effort for the sport.

Headquarters: Lafayette, Colo.
Key executives: Will Chang, chairman; Rob King, vice chairman; Dan Payne, CEO; Jim Snyder, CFO; Matthew Bailey, director of global partnerships
Sponsors: Adidas, American International Group (AIG), Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer, Emirates, Gatorade, KT Tape, Gilbert (sports equipment), Thorne Research,
Media: Grand Prix Entertainment holds the exclusive right to own, operate and globally broadcast USA Rugby-sanctioned professional sevens matches, leagues or tournaments through the 2024 Olympics.

United World Sports
Position: Owner, operator and producer of the two largest annual rugby events in the United States — World Rugby’s HSBC World Sevens in Las Vegas and the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship. UWS announced last month that its North American Super 7s Rugby League will launch with a barnstorming six-city tour across the U.S. in 2018.
Headquarters: White Plains, N.Y.

Key executives: Jon Prusmack, CEO; Jonathan First, president; David Niu, president of the North American Super 7s Rugby League; Jeff McDowell, executive vice president and CMO; Rob Cornelius, vice president of business development; Jon Hinkin, tournament director, HSBC Sevens Rugby Series Las Vegas and Penn Mutual
Collegiate Rugby Championships
Sponsors: Aspire Wealth Planners, Atavus Rugby, CallidusCloud, Coors Light, DHL, Dunkin Donuts, Fiji Airways, HSBC North America, Lyft, Magnus Irish Ciders, NormaTec, Penn Mutual, Rhino Rugby USA, South African Airways, Tag Heuer.

PRO Rugby

Position: PRO Rugby played one season of 15-man rugby in 2016 with five franchises — San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Denver and near Columbus, Ohio. Its future is in doubt after the league canceled contracts with players and coaches in December. It currently holds the exclusive USA Rugby sanction for professional 15s, but that’s due to expire in April 2018, though owner and CEO Doug Schoninger believes he has a legal case to extend it under the current contract.
Headquarters: New York City
Key executive: Owner and CEO Doug Schoninger

Grand Prix Network

Position: A production and distribution company that holds the exclusive right to own, operate and broadcast USA Rugby-sanctioned professional rugby sevens matches, leagues or tournaments through the 2024 Olympics. Grand Prix has held these rights since 2005. Its startup tournament, the Rugby Football League Million Dollar Champion Sevens, is under development for summer 2018, with a full-fledged Grand Prix RFL targeted for 2019. WhiteCap Sports Group is selling franchises, led by Managing Partner Bob Malandro.
Headquarters: Los Angeles
Key executives: William Tatham, chairman and CEO; Kevin Wynne, executive vice president and chief sports officer; Bruce Skinner, COO; Karyne Bazzano, CMO; Rich Rose, EVP/CRO; Ruth McCartney, chief entertainment officer.

Major League Rugby
Position: A startup league owned collectively by 10 existing rugby clubs, who have in some cases sought local co-investors to help professionalize their organizations and fund the league. Expects to start play in 2018 with teams in Austin, Texas; Dallas; Glendale, Colo.; Houston; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New Orleans; Salt Lake City and Seattle.
Headquarters: Salt Lake City
Key executives: Dean Howes, commissioner; Nic Benson, deputy commissioner

Rugby International Marketing
Position: Created by USA Rugby in 2015, RIM is a for-profit entity designed to monetize the national governing body’s commercial rights and develop new revenue streams. RIM represents the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams, the Americas Rugby Championship, Grand Prix Rugby and the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens. RIM also oversees The Rugby Channel OTT platform, launched in April 2016. Minority investors include the England Rugby Football Union, CSM Sport & Entertainment and Harlequins FC.
Headquarters: Lafayette, Colo.
Key executives: David Sternberg, CEO; Melissa Brennan, vice president of corporate partnerships

CSM Sport & Entertainment

Position: The exclusive commercial sales agent for Rugby International Marketing, for which CSM is a minority shareholder. The agency is part of Chime Communications, which is owned by Providence Equity Partners.
Headquarters: London
Key executives: Harlan Stone, chairman, North America; Jeff Shifrin, group CEO; Ross Meltzer, executive vice president of properties; Rob McQueen, president of North America; Dave Mingey, managing director; Tori Stevens, senior vice president of sports strategy

TLA Worldwide

Position: A sports marketing agency that arranged the match between the Irish national rugby team and the USA Rugby Men’s Eagles earlier this month at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. It was the first match of the Emirates Airlines Summer Series. Since 2014, TLA has promoted several high-profile rugby matches in the U.S., including the Ireland-New Zealand match at Soldier Field in Chicago and the London Irish-Saracens match at Red Bull Arena in 2016.
Headquarters: London, New York City and Melbourne, Australia
Key executives: Bart Campbell, chairman; Mike Principe, CEO; Greg Genske, president and partner; Donald Malter, CFO; Dwight Mighty, COO; Howard Schwartz, senior vice president of sales and marketing


Position: The global sports and entertainment agency has been the exclusive commercial representative for the Rugby World Cup since 1995, with an agreement that extends through the 2019 event. Also, a 10-year agreement signed in October 2014 with USA Rugby gives the agency marketing rights to the governing body’s Collegiate National Championship weekend and its College 7s National Championship.
Headquarters: New York, London and Beverly Hills, Calif.
Key executive: Nick Chesworth, senior vice president, IMG Media

— Compiled by SportsBusiness Journal