The moment that could forever change the face of rugby union
Within 24 hours, through their South African operations, Yormark had set up the appeal and after meeting Kolisi and his wife, Rachel, in person, he was signed up.
“I congratulated him on his victory, I said when things calmed down we would love to meet him because we wanted to help him tell his story to the world.
“When we later met him with his wife Rachel and listened to his goals, purpose and mission and what they wanted to accomplish in life – by the end of the meeting I was more convinced that never should he be part of our family. “
Since then, Roc Nation has placed itself at the forefront of plans to rename the rugby union and develop the game: it is now a partner of the United Rugby Championship, as well as of the Sharks in South Africa; Yormark was appointed to advise Saracens after their takeover last month; and his company is in talks with the organizers of the 2023 World Cup in France about marketing opportunities.
But perhaps more importantly, Yormark has embarked on a recruiting drive to carefully select players who he believes have the character and profile to transcend the traditional boundaries of rugby. That motivation includes Maro Itoje, one of Kolisi’s opponents in the World Cup final, and his Springbok teammates Cheslin Kolbe, Sbu Nkosi and Aphelele Fassi, with more high profile signings to come.
“Maro wants to transcend rugby,” adds Yormark. “Rugby is the most important thing in Maro’s life, but he knows his chapter as a professional player will only last a very long time. The modern day player must start to set the stage for success later in his career while he is playing.
We need to understand what the next generation wants
Eddie Jones recently warned Marcus Smith of the dangers of off-court distractions, citing Emma Raducanu’s form as an example since her tennis triumph at the US Open. But Yormark believes that by developing the profile of outstanding players and telling their stories, the sport will benefit as well.
“Recently I flew to Europe for a football game and some younger members of our party only wanted to talk about the England game against Tonga and this future star. [Smith], “he said.” It tells me that the players are going to excite the next generation.
“When you talk to young kids today, they follow their favorite players, who are cool, stand out or set trends. We need to understand what the next generation is looking for and give it to them without alienating traditional supporters.
“We have to allow these players to tell their stories, to speak for themselves and to sell themselves, because they are also promoting the sport.”
To do this, he insists that players must have a greater voice in the decision-making process with national clubs and unions, and the revised world season to ensure that the competitions do not overlap.
“The game must be open to new ideas and suggestions. It is not easy for people to embrace change. The most important asset are the players in developing the game, ”adds Yormark.
“We need to bring everyone to the table with the same program and the same goals and objectives and figure out what’s best for the sport and who needs to guide us through this next chapter for rugby.”
With less than two years to go before the next World Cup, Yormark believes this tournament could be the biggest catalyst for change.
“The World Cup is an opportunity to take this sport to the next level,” he said. “The tournament must reach more than just the die-hard rugby fan. It’s an opportunity for rugby on the world stage to say “something cool is going on in Paris right now”.