Rugby World finds out why the private equity company is investing in different rugby tournaments 

What are CVC’s plans for rugby?

There’s no doubting CVC’s growing influence in rugby following their investments in both the Gallagher Premiership and Guinness Pro14, as well as their prospective investment in the Six Nations.

That’s why we named managing partner Nick Clarry, who heads up the private equity company’s sports division, as the fifth most influential person in rugby in Rugby World magazine’s latest list of the game’s top 50 movers and shakers.

Related: Siya Kolisi named most influential person in rugby

Here Clarry answers Rugby World’s questions about CVC’s plans for the sport…

Who are CVC?

CVC is one of the world’s leading private investors, majority owned by its employees and investing money on behalf of institutional investors, particularly large public and private pension funds.

What sports have the company previously worked in?

We have over 20 years’ experience of investing in sports, with a dedicated global Sports, Media and Entertainment team. In particular, we have deep experience of working with sports leagues: Moto GP (1998-2006), Formula One (2006-18), and now Premiership Rugby and Pro14 Rugby.

Why have you invested in rugby?

Rugby is a fantastic sport, with a strong character, and delivers an incredible sporting spectacle on the pitch for the fans and the players. There is also potential for significant growth in the sport from the women’s game and new Tier Two markets, like the USA.

The commercial revenues of rugby do not reflect this sporting success. As a relatively young professional sport (1995) there is a lot more commercial potential – and this is where CVC can help.

What do you plan to do in rugby and how long will you stay involved?

We are a minority partner with 27% in both Premiership Rugby and the Pro14, with responsibility to drive success of the commercial side, and no involvement with sporting and regulatory decisions.

Our goal is to use our business expertise to help rugby improve its commercial revenues – to achieve its full potential – and provide more money to reinvest back into the sport.

What are CVC’s plans for rugby?

Derby date: Leinster’s Garry Ringrose scores against Connacht in the Pro14 (Getty Images)

If we are successful, the main beneficiary is rugby, as they have retained the majority shareholding (73%) in both Premiership Rugby and Pro14.

This project is expected to take up to ten years – as it did in Formula One and Moto GP.

Are you going to change competition formats?

We have no involvement with sporting and regulatory decisions, which remain with the governing bodies that have always run the sport. We hope that they continue to facilitate growth in the game, with new competition formats and opportunities for the women’s game and Tier Two countries.

We are aligned to be supportive, if it is good for the players and the fans and the commercial potential.

Are there restrictions on how clubs can spend the money you’ve invested?

We have invested more than £300m into rugby over the last 18 months. There is a requirement that the money is reinvested into the game rather than taken out as a dividend by the club owners.

With hindsight, this project should help rugby survive the Covid pandemic and continue to build the sport over the next ten years.

How much potential do you think there is for rugby to grow?

We believe there is a significant opportunity for rugby to grow, by providing a better sporting experience for the players and the fans.

Collaboration within the sport will be key – club and country, northern and southern hemisphere, Tier One and Tier Two, women’s game, etc – to deliver a sporting spectacle and assurances for player welfare.

Our role will be to work hard alongside the sport, to improve the fan experience on media platforms and in the stadium.

You have stakes in the Premiership and Pro14, and are in discussions with the Six Nations. Do you plan to invest in any other competitions, particularly in the southern hemisphere?

We have existing partnerships with Premiership Rugby and Pro14 Rugby, and we would like to become the partner of the Six Nations.

This will position CVC as an aligned partner of the game in the northern hemisphere, to help foster collaboration and achieve its commercial revenue potential.

Collaboration with the southern hemisphere and Tier Two will be key to the success of these projects – and the game in the broadest sense.

This can be achieved without further investments by CVC, but we are open to those ideas if that’s helpful to the long-term success of rugby.

This article originally appeared in the August 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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