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The Lions next play the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday 21 March 2020, kickoff at 5:45 SA Time. Due to the Coronavirus the Super Rugby competition was suspended so the match will actually not take place as scheduled.

NEWS: RATHBONE’S VISION FOR BULLS

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    Posted: 18-Jun-2020 at 3:57pm
https://www.sportindustry.co.za/news/news-rathbone%E2%80%99s-vision-bulls

The Vodacom Bulls are embarking on a new era, with a new CEO in Edgar Rathbone and a relatively-new Director of Rugby in former Springbok coach, Jake White.

Rathbone believes that for South African rugby to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic pressures that were affecting the game even before this, it needs to focus on strengthening the local game like never before.

That’s according to an interview he did with Bulls sponsor Vodacom after starting in his new role on 1 June.

“There will be tough decisions that need to be made in our structures and global conversations about the calendar,” says Rathbone. “But our first and foremost focus needs to be to get our local game strong again.”

Rathbone’s vision and what he wants to achieve as CEO includes building on the partnership with Mamelodi Sundowns, working closer with Pretoria businesses, increasing the Bulls’ digital footprint, and strengthening the relationship with local rugby clubs, schools and universities around Loftus Versveld.

“The partnership with Sundowns needs to be further developed,” he says. “We’re trying to get Sundowns to play more of their games at Loftus Versfeld and making Loftus the hub of Tshwane. We also need to make sure our clubs are looked after, because they are the talent pipeline for us, and their influence within our rugby community is massive. And we’ve all seen, through the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the growth of digital media. We need to explore that further and monetise the digital side of rugby.”

Rathbone also has some thoughts on how South African rugby unions should be run.

“We need to get more business people involved in rugby and run it as a business,” he says. “I believe COVID-19 has forced us to rethink many aspects of how we run rugby. While at the Lions I worked under Altmann Allers and he taught me key lessons about not getting too emotional about decisions. Sport has a lot of highs and lows, but you need to keep to your business strategy through all of that, especially in the good times. You need to stick to your business strategy then, because it’s easy to lose your way when everything is going well.”

So, what does Rathbone believe some of the key elements in running a successful franchise are?

“It’s a question of making the right business decisions first and spending on the right things,” he says. “If conditioning in the past was your issue, then we need to spend on the facilities and the gym. That, in return, gives you results on the pitch and that brings financial success. It’s about identifying the small things that you can change that will bring the difference on the pitch to create financial success, because it also doesn’t help that you have the best run board in the game, but you’re not performing on the pitch.”

And Rathbone’s leadership style?

“I like to empower people and let them take responsibility of their departments,” he says. “I decentralise a lot. I have an open-door policy, because I believe if you get the culture right within your office, then you have everybody pulling in the same direction. I see my job as to provide the vision and the goal and then to get everybody to buy into that.”
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