The Rugby Expo is the only global rugby exhibition and conference that brings together the professional and grass roots game under one roof. Exhibitors and delegates from various businesses invested in the game and it’s growth attend to hear from influential members of the sport. Including the IRB, ESPN, Sky Sports, USA Sevens, Harlequins RFC, Pitchero, HSBC Bank and many others. It’s been a week since we’ve returned from London and are still very glad we went. It’s not a cheap event to attend, at nearly $600 a ticket delegates don’t expect much more than a chance to mingle with industry movers and shakers in hopes to learn some insight or make the right connection to grow their business. That is exactly what we at Bakline did.
The event overall is hailed as a global meeting of the minds in London but unfortunately from our point of view, hardly that. It is an expensive event to attend and representatives from the far end of the earth may have found it challenging to make it. The purpose beyond networking at an event like this is about creating and planning for your business based on the facts, reports and insider opinions represented. Our company in particular, benefited greatly when we first attended two years ago for the first Rugby Expo. It was the driving force behind our thinking that setting up a rugby company in North America was the right thing to do. This time around, the reasons were different. We are an established, new born company with some clients, product and a developing brand. Getting people to listen was a little easier, especially when they heard our American accents. North America is still virgin territory and ripe for rugby by all accounts.
If anyone is interested in attending the Expo next year as it is scheduled to occur in London around the Autumn Internationals again, the positives of Rugby Expo are worth a first time visit. The Expo is new and who knows who might show up next year. This year, we had the privilege to meet and chat with former and great All Blacks Murray Mexted and Sean Fitzpatrick. Coffee with Springbok coaches Dick Muir and Gary Gold - jokes with Bath wing and fullback Nick Abendanon. A defining moment for our company is when Sean Fitzpatrick became a proud owner of our vintage FIFTEENS tee – and then proceeded to use it as a rag when beer spilled on his iPad. No worries Sean, we’re sure it went straight to the wash soon afterward.
The toughest aspect of the Expo is the narrow focus on growing the game in Europe. Too many panelists spoke of the challenges facing the game in the UK and not enough on all the other developing nations looking to grow the sport. This is very important to highlight because for the importance of the Rugby World Cup, a competitive landscape must be nurtured and right now, there are only (again) four or five teams that will realistically have a chance to win the William Webb Ellis trophy. Too many World Cups with this outcome and we can only imagine the people who will care are the ones from the top ten. To truly engage the commercial aspect of this great game, developing countries must create professional programs to make a more entertaining, rewarding and profitable World Cup.
Upon returning to the U.S. many exciting opportunities will be looming for Bakline and our enthusiasts in the near future. Until details and deals are sorted, we will announce them as we see ready. One of our first partnerships we are pleased to announce will be with the charitable organization, SKRUM. SKRUM aims to give the youth of the sub-saharan african country Swaziland hope for the future and for once the freedom of choice in their lives through social education and the opportunity to play the wonderful game of rugby. Bakline will have a representative at the New York Sevens Tournament this Saturday the 27th of November who be more than happy to answer any questions and accept donations. More to come on this initiative soon.