Mark McCafferty: Outgoing Premiership rugby boss urges unity over future of the sport

By Chris JonesBBC rugby union correspondent
Mark McCafferty
Mark McCafferty will work as an advisor to investors CVC upon leaving his role with Premiership Rugby

The outgoing boss of English club rugby has urged collaboration and sacrifice as the professional game enters a pivotal stage in its development.

Mark McCafferty will stand down as chief executive of Premiership Rugby at the end of the season after 14 years.

It comes after the clubs sold a share to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, while the international game is also at a crossroads.

"People have just got to work together," McCafferty told BBC 5 Live.

"It's tough, because it probably takes some give and take. There is too much [thinking] independently - and sometimes we are guilty of that as well.

"But the big secret is trying to bring the right people and trying to make things happen with a longer-term, collaborative perspective on it."

The Premiership clubs agreed a deal with CVC at the end of last year to sell a 27% stake in the business for more than £200m, while talks continue on a global level over the future of the international game.

The Six Nations council announced on Wednesday they would be proceeding with due diligence over the proposed World Rugby Nations Championship, but are also exploring other options - including selling to private equity.

"If I look back at how little progress was made when the RFU and the clubs were going in opposite directions, and how much progress we have started to make now, I think that is true at the world level," McCafferty continued.

"We have to bring people together in a way that they act more collaboratively. There is also the whole issue of player welfare, and I suspect everyone is going to have to play slightly less than they already do if we are going to get that balance right."

'Opportunity for the club game to grow'

After he stands down as PRL chief executive in May, McCafferty will work as an adviser to CVC, and he will also remain part of English rugby's Professional Game Board (PGB).

"It's about [helping CVC understand] the whole rugby landscape and what is happening there," he added.

"It's a fantastic sport and it's rooted in some values that we all cherish but in the professional age they will always come under pressure a bit.

"I know most of the personalities around the global scene and hopefully can help navigate the club game through to the next phase of growth.

"They have made a big investment and given all the experience I have got it worked for both parties to help facilitate [the partnership], because there will inevitably be some big challenges ahead.

"But also there is an opportunity for the club game to grow and thrive which hopefully it has over the past ten or so years."