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The Rugby World: Past, Present and Future

October 20, 2021


Hosted by Mount St. Mary’s University and The Global Rugby Leadership Institute Academic Network

Mount St. Mary’s University (USA); Massey University (New Zealand); St. Mary’s University Twickenham (England); University Claude Bernard 1, Lyon (France); University of Edinburgh (Scotland); University di Verona (Italy); Yamanashi Gakuin University (Japan); Higher School of Economics, Moscow (Russia)

Virtual Forum Sponsors

Welcome, Overview and Format (9-9:15 a.m. Eastern Time)

John Nauright, Dean, Richard J. Bolte School of Business, Mount St. Mary’s University and Managing Director, Global Rugby Leadership Institute

Jay Myles, Head Men’s Rugby Coach, Mount St. Mary’s University

Ralph Morton, Events DC, Sr. Vice President of Sports and Entertainment

Session One: (9:15-10 a.m.) The Rugby World: The Players’ Perspective

Moderator: Jeremy Hapeta, New Zealand


Session Two: The Rise and Global Development of Rugby (10:10-10:55 a.m.)

Moderator: Colm Hickey, England and Ireland


Session Three: Coaching and Management of Rugby Performance (11:05-11:55 a.m.)

Moderator: Christine Nash, Scotland


Session Four: The Rugby Experience (noon-12:40 p.m.)

Moderator: John Nauright, USA and Australia


Feature Session: The Rugby World Cup (12:45-1:30 p.m.)

Moderator: John Nauright, Director, Global Rugby Leadership Institute


  • Farah Palmer, Deputy Chair of New Zealand Rugby, and Member of the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 – Playing in 2022 Organizing Committee
  • Claude Atcher, Chief Executive Officer, Rugby World Cup France 2023
  • Jim Brown, Director, USA Rugby World Cup Bid
  • Terry Hasseltine, President, Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland & Executive Director, Maryland Sports Commission
  • Gregory A. O’Dell, Events DC President and CEO

Session Five: Growing Rugby in the USA (1:35-2:20 p.m.)

Moderator: Jessica Hammond-Graf, USA


Session Six: Future Directions for the Rugby World (2:30-3:15 p.m.)

Moderator: Alejandro Cañadas, Argentina and USA


Concluding Analysis: The Global Rugby Landscape (3:15-3:30 p.m.)

Moderator: Moderator: John Nauright, Global Rugby Leadership Institute

Interviewing: Farah Palmer, Deputy Chair, New Zealand Rugby

Register for the Forum

John Nauright
Dean, Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business
Director, Global Rugby Leadership Institute
Mount St. Mary’s University

Julie Crochet
Project Coordinator, Global Rugby Leadership Institute
Mount St. Mary’s University

J. Paige Moseley
Media Coordinator, Global Rugby Leadership Institute

Presenter Biographies (By Session Order)

John Nauright, USA and Australia

john naurightProfessor John Nauright, PhD, is Dean of the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. He has been a global leader in rugby studies and business research for the past 25 years beginning at the University of Otago in New Zealand where he taught six members of the All Blacks and Black Ferns. While at The University of Queensland in Australia, he was a consultant and participant in the BBC Television Series The Union Game which aired during the 1999 Rugby World Cup. He founded a global rugby research network in 2015 and directed the inaugural “World in Union: Global Rugby Conference” as part of the 2015 Rugby World Cup Festival of Rugby. His award-winning major works on rugby include The Rugby World in the Professional Era (with Tony Collins); Rugby and the South African Nation; Making the Rugby World: Race, Gender, Commerce; and Making Men: Rugby and Masculine Identity. He also co-edited a 2018 special issue of the Journal of Global Sport Management entitled “Tackling Global Issues in Rugby Union.” He also published (with Albert Grundlingh) an analysis comparing the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 2010 Soccer World Cup both held in South Africa. He is former Vice President of Strategic Development for the Dallas Griffins (now Jackals) of Major League Rugby. He is a dual Australian and USA citizen and also now coordinator of the Global Rugby Leadership Institute, a global network of academic partners developing leadership skills in business, coaching and performance for the rugby community.

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Jay Myles, USA

Jay MylesJay is Coaching Leadership and Rugby Performance Director at Mount St. Mary’s University and since 2014 has been Mount St. Mary's University head men's rugby coach. Jay has focused on developing the team into a more cohesive unit and building a strong reputation. Myles’ coaching staff has implemented team weightlifting sessions, more structured practices, discipline and dedication to the team and a focus on community service. Myles’ players are committed to honing their rugby skills. For several years the entire team has benefited from the professional, international coaching staff of Global Rugby Group, led by GRLI Expert Neil Tunnah.

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Ralph Morton, USA

Ralph MortonRalph Morton leads the Sports & Entertainment Division for Events DC representing Washington DC in the global events industry. Morton heads the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and St. Elizabeths East Campuses that include arenas, stadiums, fields and other event venues, and directs DC’s efforts to attract impactful events and opportunities to the region. Prior to his position in Washington DC, he served for 16 years as the Executive Director of the Seattle Sports Commission, leading the mission of making Seattle a world-class sports destination. He previously served as Vice President of Events for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, where he held leaderships roles for events such as Super Bowls and NCAA Final Fours. He also served as Vice President of Operations for the Acxiom Grand Prix Du Mardi Gras and Entertainment Coordinator for Aggreko Entertainment Services. He is an alumnus of the University of Florida, and he and his wife Laura and four children are excited to transition to the greater DC area.

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Jeremy Hapeta, New Zealand

Jeremy HapetaDr. Jeremy Hapeta has been with the Office of Research and Enterprise as their Research Development Advisor – Māori at Massey University in New Zealand. This year he is moving to the University of Otago, also in New Zealand. A fully registered teacher, Jeremy previously taught in Primary, Intermediate and Secondary (High) schools. He played first class rugby for Manawatu (captain) in New Zealand, and he played professionally in Japan (Hokkaido Barbarians), France and Italy. Jeremy played in a New Zealand Divisional XV against Italy and Ireland in 2002 and against Tonga and Manu Samoa in 2003. He also coached Rugby in Italy and New Zealand. His research interests include: Kaupapa Māori methodology, Sport for Development; Team Culture; Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) and Games Sense pedagogy. He also serves on two Academic Reference groups for Sport New Zealand.

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Marcus Horan, Ireland

Marcus HoranMarcus is Player Development Manager for Rugby Players Ireland. His role as Personal Development Manager is to support the entire Munster squad, including fulltime and academy players as well as all past players within Munster province. Using the existing five pillared model as a central point of delivery, he assists in career exploration and development, personal development and up skilling, brand awareness, financial road mapping and general player wellbeing. He utilizes both national and local experts from a range of backgrounds, allowing him to not only assist the current crop of professionals but to also be instrumental in the induction of new players and also the smooth transitioning of retiring players to careers after their playing days. He also works as a reporter on Rugby Beo on TG4 in Ireland. The program provides live coverage of games from the Pro14 competition. Marcus was a member of the Munster Rugby Squad for 14 years and played 225 times for the province. He won 67 caps playing for Ireland including winning 3 Triple Crowns and a Grand Slam in the Six Nations Championship. He also won a Triple Crown at 'A' and U21 levels. He won two European Cups with Munster as well as 2 Magners Leagues, a Celtic League, a Celtic Cup and an Inter-provincial title. He also played club rugby and coached with Shannon RFC and won 3 All-Ireland League titles, 3 Munster Senior cup titles and a Munster Junior cup title. He also played for Munster U20's and Munster Schools as well as the Irish Schoolboys.

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Al Baxter, Australia

al baxterAl is both an architect and an ex-professional sportsman who was the most capped prop in the history of Australian Rugby Union, when he retired in 2011. Al played Rugby Union for the Australian Wallabies in two Rugby World Cups, including the 2003 final; seven Tri Nation Tournaments; and 12 seasons of Super Rugby. His time as a professional sportsman, combined with his design expertise, make him uniquely qualified to create spaces where athletes can develop and excel. Al is a registered architect with extensive knowledge in sports, master planning, leisure and convention and exhibition design, having worked both in Australia and internationally. Since retiring from rugby, Al has also taken on a number of Board roles including as a Trustee of Sydney Living Museums (formerly the Historic uses Trust of NSW), a director on the SLM Foundation Board and as a Director of Waratahs Rugby. He was NSW Rugby Union Board member 2011-2019. He serves on the NSW Waratahs High Performance Committee; was Vice-President and now is President of New South Wales Rugby. Al is also experienced as a rugby union commentator on ABC TV.

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Greg Smith, Fiji and New Zealand

Greg SmithGreg is Director of the Centre for Sport Science and Human Performance at Waikato Institute of Technology, New Zealand. He is a former Fiji national rugby player with 46 Caps. He also captained the national team for eight test matches. He played 48 Super Rugby matches with the Waikato Chiefs in New Zealand. He has coached the New Zealand Black Ferns, has been assistant coach for Manu Samoa men’s national team and coached rugby for nine years in Japan.

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Julie Crochet, France

Julie CrochetJulie Crochet, MBA, is currently Assistant Coach for Mount St. Mary’s Women’s Rugby program. She was born and raised in France and first started playing rugby in 2013 in Saint-Céré rugby club for two years, then went to play for Castres Olympique for three years. She came to the USA in 2018, to play for Farrah Douglas, at Mount St. Mary’s University and to pursue her MBA. She was instrumental in the launch of the Global Rugby Leadership Institute Network.

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Colm Hickey, England and Ireland

Colm HickeyColm Hickey teaches in the Faculty of Sport at Solent University in Southampton, and is the Director of Sport at the Vandyke Academy of Sport in Nigeria. Colm was educated at the rugby famous Blackrock College in Dublin. He holds degrees from several universities including a PhD in Educational Studies from Strathclyde University. He is former Headteacher of a Specialist Sports College in London, and Director of Education of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport. He has written about the development of rugby in Irish schools in the 19th century ‘The Evolution of Athleticism in Elite Irish Schools 1878-1914. Beyond the Finn/Cronin Debate’, in The International Journal of the History of Sport, (2013) and has presented a paper ‘Irish Elite Schools, Rugby, Nationalism and the Great War’, at ‘The World in Union Global Rugby Summit: Past, Present and Future’, University of Brighton, (2015). He is a columnist for the Catholic Universe newspaper and published extensively on sport including two books on football: Soccer’s Missing Men: the role of schoolteachers in the development of association football and London Geordies: the history of Hanwell Town FC. His latest book, Sport and the Creation of Irish Identity 1850-1922 is due to be published in 2022.

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Tony Collins, England

tony collinsProfessor Tony Collins is emeritus professor of history at De Montfort University, Leicester where he directed the International Centre for Sport History and Culture. He is the leading expert on rugby history and is author of a number of award-winning books on the history of rugby and sport, including A Social History of English Rugby Union, The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby, Rugby’s Great Split and How Football Began. With John Nauright he also edited The Rugby World in the Professional Era. Tony has served as a museum committee member with both the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League, and he is host of the ‘Rugby Reloaded’ podcast. In 2012 he was lead consultant for the BBC Radio 4 series Sport and the British which ran at the time of the London Olympic Games.

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Robert Buchanan, USA

robert buchananRobert “Buck” Buchanan has been involved in the development of rugby in the USA for many decades, particularly in Wisconsin. He is the communications director of the Ethos of Rugby Foundation. The Ethos of Rugby Foundation’s mission is to promote the sport of rugby and its ethos by strengthening education, leadership development, and health & wellness. Since 1976 he has been the curator of the U.S. Rugby Museum Collection and the National Sports Heritage Collection. The NSHC is home to rare 19th and early 20th century artifacts, books, photos, documents, postcards, art and newspapers that focus on American rugby, college sports, and contributions made by women and indigenous people throughout the nation. The majority of the collection dates 1850-1925. He was also Director of Development for the Wisconsin Rugby Sports Complex in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Erika Morri, Italy

Erika MorriErika played for Italy in the first Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1991 and recently completed a term as the first woman on the Executive Committee of the Italian Rugby Federation. She is also Project Manager of the ethical partnership between the Italian Women’s National Rugby Team and the Non-profit Association LOTO ONLUS for a campaign to fight against ovarian cancer. She is leading a project to tell the stories of women in rugby around the world to raise the status of women’s rugby internationally and co-founded, with Argentinian Leandro Conde, Wo*Men's Rugby Land of Freedom to promote rugby for girls and women around the world. She was recently featured by World Rugby.

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Derek Catsam, USA

Derek CatsamDerek Catsam is Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan Professor in the Humanities and Professor of History at University of Texas, Permian Basin. His latest book is the story of the 1981 South African Springboks in the USA entitled Flashpoint: How a Little-Known Sporting Event Fueled America's Anti-Apartheid Movement (Rowman & Littlefield: September 2021). He is also Senior Research Associate at Rhodes University in South Africa. He publishes regularly on rugby and South Africa particularly at He is also expert on race and culture in the USA and South Africa.

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Charles Little, New Zealand and England

Charles LittleChuck Little directs the Sports Management Master’s program at St. Mary’s University Twickenham, London in England where he is Senior Lecturer in Sports Management. He has written widely on sport development including the history of rugby union and rugby league especially in Australia and his native New Zealand. He is the author of Through Thick and Thin: the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Their Community which was based on his PhD work at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

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Christine Nash, Scotland

Christine NashChristine is Head of Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences (ISPEHS) at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Her MSc., which she undertook on a scholarship in the USA, concentrated on sport coaching, and gave her the opportunity to apply the theory with the university swim team. She has been a National Coach, as well as a university coach in swimming. She has worked within a number of Higher Education institutions worldwide, most recently as a Visiting Professor at Technische Universität München (TUM), Germany. Her interests are in developing coaches, through a variety of methods, encouraging them to develop expertise. She is the editor of the book Practical Sport Coaching (London: Routledge). Her Institute has a partnership with Scottish Rugby and she is Scottish lead for the Global Rugby Leadership Institute.

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Neil Tunnah, Scotland and Australia

Neil TunnahGrew up playing rugby in the Scottish Borders with Jedforest, moved to Edinburgh and played for Watsonians where he started to transition in to coaching. Moved to Australia in 2010 and began coaching shortly after with Gordon Higlanders in the Shute Shield. Began coaching full time in the Sports Academy at Knox Grammar School, Sydney in 2014. In 2014 was appointed assistant coach to Simon Cron at Northern Suburbs for Shute Shield 2015. In May 2015 was appointed by Jim Williams to coach the forwards for the Sydney Rams in the 2015 NRC (National Rugby Championship) In October 2015 was appointed as Head Coach of West Harbour for the 2016 Season in the Shute Shield. 2017 Coached Manly Marlins. During 2017 season was offered a 2 year contract with Jersey Reds in England to coach Forwards and Defence. Signed a 1 year extension in December 2019 which would mean a stay with the club until May 2020. Currently in Australia working with Rugby Australia and Rugby Union South Australia as Director of Coaching focussing on player and coach performance across the states premier competition"

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Farrah Douglas, USA

Farrah DouglasFarah is Head Coach, Mount St. Mary’s Women’s Rugby program which she has led since 2017. She was a coach with USA Rugby for eight years serving as Women’s Forwards Skill Coach and then as Head Coach of the Girls High School All Americans squad. She is former Assistant Women’s Rugby Coach at Penn State University and technical director of The Rugby Academy. She was also a member of the 2006 and 2010 USA Women's National Rugby Team at the Women’s Rugby World Cup and served as an international female athlete representative to USA Rugby's Congress from 2009-13.

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Olivier Nier, France

Olivier NierDr. Olivier Nier, University of Claude Bernard 1, France and CEO H YPERION 7. He is President of the Rugby Coaches Training Institute (IFER). The purpose of the IFER, created by the Regroupement des coaches de rugby (TECH XV), is to offer continuing education to the entire profession of rugby coaches. Olivier is former coach of the Romanian National Rugby team, leading them to the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. He also coached the Swiss National Rugby team as well as several French professional club teams including Massy, Grenoble, Brive, Oyonnax, Romans, and Aix-en-Provence. He promotes the translation of rugby leadership, coaching and playing experiences to the business world. He is a member of the Center for Research and Innovation for Sport at Lyon.

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Nic Evans, Wales

Nic EvansNic is currently course lead on the Physical Education, Sport and Youth Development undergraduate programme and teach on the MSc Professional Development: Rugby Performance Pathway St Mary’s University, Twickenham. She is in the final stages of completing her Level 4 qualification, joining a small group of female coaches to achieve the L4. She was the first female Director of Rugby in Essex, and in 2018 one of only 8 clubs across England to not concede a loss. The Kings Cross Steelers is an LGBT inclusive club that grew to over 150 players during her time leading the club. She is part of the documentary Steelers, that is available worldwide on Amazon Prime. She is currently Middlesex Mens’ Under 20’s head coach and Wooden Spoons Marauders 7s team Womens’ head coach, and mens’ assistant coach. She played at Wasps Ladies for 9 years and gained 7 caps for Wales, her goal is to become a National Coach. She is a physical educator and coach and spent 16 years across a variety of educational settings before moving into Higher Education. She is currently a level 3 coach mentor for England Rugby. She is a passionate advocate for the womens’ and girls’ game and is currently part of the World Rugby Player Welfare Committee advocating for coach education in concussion awareness. Her current areas of research include transformational leadership and the value of female coaches and equity in PE and Sport.

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Mike Ford, England

Mike FordInternational Rugby Coach. Defensive Coordinator of the Ireland national rugby team 2002-2005, winning a triple crown and helping guide Ireland to 3rd in the world rankings. In September 2004 he started working as a defense and skills coach at Saracens Rugby Club before taking over as head coach in August 2005. He was defense coach for the British and Irish Lions on their 2005 New Zealand tour. In May 2006 Ford became defense coach of the England national team, part of the coaching team that guided England to the 2007 World Cup Final. With Ford as defensive coach England conceded the fewest points in the 2009 Six Nations (70) and the fewest tries in the 2010 Six Nations (5), and the fewest tries in the pool stages of the 2011 World Cup. He became head coach at Bath Rugby Club in May 2013 and guided them to a Champions Cup spot and an Amlin Challenge Cup final. In 2014/15 Bath finished 2nd in the Premiership and lost in the Premiership Final to Saracens. Ford was awarded the Aviva Premiership Director of Rugby of the Year award in 2015 while his son George Ford won Player of the Year. In 2016 Ford joined Toulon Rugby Club in France as head coach. After leaving Toulon Ford coached the German national team and then signed to coach the Dallas Griffins in Major League Rugby, but as Dallas did not play returned to England as Assistant Coach for Leicester Tigers. He also represented England and Great Britain in the sport of Rugby League prior to becoming a coach in rugby union. His son George Ford currently represents England (76 caps).

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Allen Clarke, Ireland

Allen ClarkeAllen Clarke is Director of Rugby and Head Coach of the Seattle Sea Wolves in Major League Rugby. Allen has a proven track record in rugby union as a player, a coach and in the delivery of high-performance pathways. He won eight international caps for Ireland, played over 100 games for Northampton Saints and was a key member of the Ulster team that won the European Cup in 1999. Growing up in Dungannon in the North of Ireland, he was first introduced to the game in 1979 at Royal School Dungannon. Seven years later he would go on to gain his first International honors for Ireland U18s, before representing Ireland U20s two years later. Focusing on his rugby career after university, Allen played for Northampton Saints in England and for his home province Ulster, during which time he earned his first senior international cap in 1995. Following retirement from playing Allen transitioned into coaching. He is renowned for his great knowledge & love of the game, his work ethic, and embodiment of the core values of the game. In 2001 he was appointed Director of Elite Player Development for Ulster, establishing Ulster’s first academy programme before being appointed senior assistant coach to Mark McCall in 2004. In their second season at the helm they guided Ulster to a first Celtic League title in 2006. In 2007 Allen was appointed High Performance Manager with the Irish Rugby Football Union overseeing a talent pathway which would develop players for the professional game and International XV. In Ireland his coaching abilities are recognized nationally and internationally for the impact on the development of several Ireland international players and, also those who have achieved British Lions selection. Following a successful five years with the IRFU, he returned to his native province as Director of Elite Player Development, further expanding the scale and success of the province’s age grade programs before being appointed Assistant Coach in 2014. A move to Ospreys as Forwards Coach in 2017 and subsequent promotion to Head Coach saw the Ospreys becoming the number one region in Wales together with qualification for the Heineken Champion’s Cup. At international level Allen has been Head Coach with Ireland U20s, Ireland A and Emerging Ireland; leading the U20s to Six Nations Champions in 2010 and the Emerging Ireland team to victory in the 2015 Tbilisi Cup. After arriving in Seattle in April 2021 initially as a lead consultant for the Seawolves it quickly became apparent that the draw of an opportunity to combine his elite level coaching experience with the opportunity to create a high-performance pathway led Allen to his current position of Director of Rugby & Head Coach.

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Francois Clement, France

Francois ClementFrançois is a Senior Principal at Populous and responsible for the Populous France office. He graduated as a French State-registered Architect (D.P.L.G. degree) from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris La Villette, after completing his studies in both Marseille, France and in Venice, Italy. He is a keen sportsman and played international rugby for Luxembourg while living and working in the country. François is experienced in all phases and all types of sport architecture, including stadium, arena, horse racing, training centre and Overlay design. He has particular skills in leading teams and working closely with clients. François is leading the Populous team in charge of the restructuration of the La Meinau stadium in Strasbourg, a renovation which will see the capacity increased from 26,000 to 32,000 seats. François is also leading the Populous team which currently provides services to the Paris 2024 Oympic Organization Committee for the finalization of the Olympic briefs of the competition venues. At bid stage, François led the same team, to help Paris 2024 Bid Committee to secure the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, providing technical the expertise and assistance required to develop plans for 38 Olympic and Paralympic venues spread across Paris. François is involved in a range of other projects in France. He is the sports architect of the CoMet in Orléans, an 10,000-seat basketball arena, which construction started in October 2019. He was also the project architect of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Grand Stade project. This project was won by Populous after a design competition organized by the FFR, and the design for the 82,000-seat stadium included both a retractable pitch and a retractable roof. Between 2006 and 2010 François worked on the design of the Aviva Stadium, Ireland’s national stadium for rugby and football and remained with the project during construction. The Aviva Stadium was completed in 2010. It can seat 50,000 spectators, and has hosted a variety of entertainment events, as well as international rugby and football markets. Francois has a passion for rugby and since 2006, he has overseen rugby-oriented projects at Populous including the feasibility study for a 20,000-seater rugby stadium for USAP Perpignan and for the RCNM Narbonne, 2 teams of the Top 14. He also created the “Oval Table”, a yearly Forum of managers and operators from the stadiums which host the Six Nations Tournament. The attendees come together to discuss latest ideas and trends in all aspects of the sport. François speaks regularly at conferences dedicated to sporting events throughout Europe. In addition, in 2014 he was invited by the French Sénat as a speaker before the “Sport professionnel et collectivités local’’ commission to talk about the relationship between professional sport and the community.

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Barry Hannon, Ireland

Barry HannonBarry Hannon is CEO of the International Rugby Experience, an exciting state of the art tourist attraction coming soon to Limerick City Centre in Ireland. Barry was born, raised, and schooled in Limerick City going on to study Law and Accounting in the University of Limerick. Barry became a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and is an alumnus of the Timoney Leadership Institute. Barry spent time in senior finance roles in Deloitte, GE and more recently with Tipperary Co-op, a leading multinational manufacturer of diary ingredients. With the broad experience across a number of different industries, Barry evolved a passion for developing teams who work together for a common goal. Barry is a compassionate and motivating leader. Barry spent some time working abroad but his love for Limerick brought him back home and that same love for Limerick attracted him to the International Rugby Experience and the chance to make a lasting difference in his home city and its role in global rugby. Barry leads a group of experts and former rugby greats including former Lions, Ireland and Munster captain and International Rugby Experience Chairman Paul O’Connell.

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Ben Dunn, Australia

Ben DunnBen is Head of Commercial for Left Field Live promotion company which is the promotion company for the 1874 Cup. He has 20 years international experience working in the commercial field of sport covering rights holders, publishing, media brands and governing bodies. Starting his career in Sydney, Australia at the time of the 2000 Olympics, Ben was London based for 9 years, becoming Head of Sport for the Telegraph Media Group through the London 2012 Olympics. Following that, Ben was the Commercial Director for the NFL in the UK before returning to Australia to take up the Chief Commercial Officer role at the Melbourne Storm NRL team. Ben joined LFL in 2019 as a partner and leads the international events program. Ben has a Bachelor of Business from the University of Technology Sydney.

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Marizanne Grundlingh, South Africa

Marizanne GrundlinghMarizanne Grundlingh is a lecturer at the IIE’s Varsity College, Cape Town. She obtained her BA (International Studies) from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA. She completed her BA (HONS) Cum Laude in Social Anthropology at Stellenbosch University and then went on to complete her MA in Social Anthropology at the same institution. Her PhD in Anthropology from the University of the Free State was titled ‘After the Triumph’: An Anthropological Study into the Lives of Elite Athletes after Competitive Sport. Her research focuses sport and symbolic immortality and the dynamics of sport and heritage in the South African context. Her current research is exploring the intangible heritage associated with rugby stadiums in South Africa. With Albert Grundlingh she recently published “Fractured Fandom and Paradoxical Passions: Explaining Support for New Zealand All Black Rugby Teams in South Africa, 1960–2018” in the International Journal of the History of Sport. She is currently researching nostalgia, heritage and Newlands Rugby Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Matthew Williams, Australia, Ireland, and France

Matthew WilliamsAs a pioneer of Professional Coaching in Rugby, Matt Williams has many years of experience coaching in both Australia and Europe. In 1996 he became manager and assistant coach for the New South Wales Waratahs and then for the next three years he was head coach. Matt was instrumental in mentoring such great players as David Campese, Matt Burke, Tiaan Strauss, Phil Kearns and Jason Little. In 1999 he acted as backs coach in Leinster Rugby's European Cup campaign, prelude to becoming the province's head coach in 2000. Williams also undertook the role of defensive coach for the Irish national team in 2001. In Matt’s three years at Leinster, the club rose through the European rankings from thirty-five to second. Leinster won the inaugural Celtic League Final and were Semi Finalists of the European Cup. Matt also was appointed Head Coach of Ireland “A” and won the Six Nations title with the “A” team. He was the first foreign head coach of the Scotland national rugby union team, holding the position from December 2003 to April 2005. He also coached Ulster before lead a group of Australian businessmen in taking over the famous Club Narbonne Méditerranée, in 2010.. He then returned to Australia and in 2013 he set up the rugby program at the Knox Sports Academy in Sydney. Matt returned to France in 2018 where he has been working as a specialist coach and advisor to clubs across the country. He also consults with the rugby program at Mount St. Mary’s University. Since 2007 Williams also has worked extensively in the Irish media. He is the International Rugby guest writer with The Irish Times for international matches. He is a guest commentator on Today FM's Matt Coopers, Last Word, Newstalk's Off the Ball, and the Second Captains podcasts. Williams has worked extensively on television, for the ABC in Australia, then in Ireland with Setanta TV, TV3 and its successor channel, Virgin Media One. With Joe Molloy, Ronan O'Gara and Shane Horgan they have created a powerful and popular panel for analysis and comment on the Six Nations and Champions Cup from 2018-21 in Ireland.

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Farah Palmer, ONZM, New Zealand

farah palmerFarah is Vice Chair of the Board of Rugby New Zealand; Associate Dean, Māori and Director of the University's Māori Business & Leadership Centre (Te Au Rangahau), Massey Business School, Massey University. She was three-time World Cup winning captain of the New Zealand Black Ferns (1998, 2002, 2006). In December 2016 she became the first woman on the New Zealand Rugby Board. She also Chairs the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board on which she has served for over 15 years. In 2018, she joined the Sport NZ Board and started a new role as Associate Dean Māori for the Massey Business School. She is a member of the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame being one of the initial six women inducted in 2014. The national women’s provincial championship in New Zealand, the Farah Palmer Cup is named for her. She was the 2005 International Rugby Board’s Women’s Rugby player of the year. She also presented the keynote address at the inaugural World in Union Conference as part of the Festival of Rugby for the men’s 2015 Rugby World Cup. She also co-directed the second conference in New Zealand in 2017.

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Claude Atcher CEO of Rugby World Cup France Organising Committee

Claude AtcherClaude was born on the 6th of December 1955 in the South of France. He holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toulouse, and he practiced as an educator within the Judicial Youth Protection program attached to the Ministry of Justice. A former rugby player, he played as a Number 8 for RC Nimes and then with Racing Club de France, where he was runner-up for the National Championship in 1987. He was selected several times with the France A team and 6 times with the France National team as substitute. Claude Atcher is a renowned expert in the field of sports events. After working on major international events (FIFA World Cup 1990, Summer Olympics 1992, Mediterranean Games 1993 and 2001), he returned to rugby by leading the successful French bid to host the Rugby World Cup 2007. On the 2007 World Cup Organising Committee, he became COO and General Manager. As an Advisor to the International Rugby Board (now World Rugby), Claude Atcher also worked with the Japanese Rugby Football Union (JRFU), on their winning bid for the organisation of Rugby World Cup 2019, the first-ever Rugby World Cup held on the Asian continent. In 2017, he was equally successful as the Head of the France 2023 bid. Since 15 May 2018, he is the CEO of the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Organising Committee.

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Jim Brown, USA Rugby World Cup Bids Chair

Jim BrownJim Brown is a sports event management professional, specializing in project leadership and integrated operational management for the largest, most complex, and highest-profile events in the world. With over 25 years experience working worldwide, Jim is accomplished in all phases of strategy, planning, and delivery. Jim is a proven team-builder with excellent organizational, interpersonal and communication skills, especially in international and multi-cultural environments. In 2010 Jim founded JBC International, an event management professional services firm specializing in project leadership and integrated operational management. JBCI’s capabilities span across all phases of sports – especially soccer - and events - from event ideation and strategic planning to operational delivery: Bidding & Acquisition – strategic planning, technical feasibility, budgeting, bidding processes, pre & post event (legacy) strategies, etc.; Planning & Readiness – organizational design and development, tailored planning processes, provision of functional subject-matter expert, facilitation of readiness and training programs, etc.; Team Building & Development – Intergrating a diverse group of functional department heads, from different backgrounds and experience levels, into a cohesive team working together to deliver a successful event or product.; Event-time Operations – decision support to Executive Leadership and senior management, design & management of event-wide operational communications programs, contingency and resiliency operations, etc.; JBCI clients past and present - FIFA, IOC, NFL, IRB / Rugby World Cup, USA Rugby, US Soccer Federation, Canadian Soccer Association, Concacaf, AFC/Asian Cup, Mexican Soccer Association and Major League Soccer.; Jim has executive leadership experience with FIFA, Olympic Games, NFL, Concacaf and others, including:; USA Rugby World Cup BidCo. Inc. 2027/31 & 2029 – Executive Chair (2020 – present); USA Rugby | Executive Board Member – Special Advisor (2018 – present); United Bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup | Canada, Mexico, USA - Advisor/Managing Director (2017 – 2018); Copa America Centenario 2016 | Advisor/Managing Director (2015 – 2016); PRO – Professional Referee Organization | Chairman (2012 – Present); FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 | Advisor to FIFA and Brazilian Local Organizing Committee (2010 – 2014); FIFA Executive Director | Competitions Division, responsible for all FIFA Competitions and Technical Department / Notably the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups (2003 – 2010); IOC – Olympic Games Knowledge Services – Advisor Services – (2002 – 2003); Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Committee | Managing Director / Venue Management (2000 – 2002); Sydney 2000 OCOG | Program Manager / Venues and Venue Manager Olympic Stadium (1998 – 2000); Major League Soccer | Operations Director / Competition and Event Operations (1996 – 1998); Olympic Games Atlanta 1996 | Venue Manager, Atlanta Fulton County Stadium (1995 – 1996); FIFA World Cup USA 1994 | Venue Operations Director - San Francisco/Stanford (1993 – 1994); San Francisco Bay Blackhawks Soccer Club | Asst. GM/Director of Operations (1991 – 1993)

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Terrance (Terry) Hasseltine, STS, CTA

terry hasseltineTerry is also Vice President of the Maryland Stadium Authority; and is on the Boards of Maryland Tourism Coalition; Fair Hill Organizing Committee; Maryland Cycling Classic; Experience Prince George’s; US Sports Congress; Former Chair, National Association of Sports Commissions. Terry was hired in July 2008 as the Executive Director of Maryland Sports, joined the Maryland Stadium Authority leadership team as Vice President of Marketing and Communication in 2014 and became took the reins of the newly formed non-profit the Sports and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland in 2019. To date, Maryland Sports has engaged in billions of dollars-worth of economic activity throughout Maryland. And, the organization has secured over $2.25+ billion worth of those activities in direct spending on Maryland’s economy. Hasseltine has spearhead the 2018/2022 and 2026 efforts to bring the FIFA World Cup to Maryland as part of the overall US and North American bid efforts. In 2011, Baltimore and Prince George’s County, Maryland were represented in the 2022 and 2026 US Bid Book. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Congress awarded the bid to North America with Maryland Sports’ led effort dually recorded in the win. Hasseltine was instrumental in the creation of the Return To Play: Youth and Amateur Sports guideline response to COVID-19. He fostered the efforts to launch the Youth and Amateur Sports Grant Program in 2018 that passed the House and Senate 172-3, however is delayed due to COVID-19. He helped launch a dedicated web site to support the TEAM Maryland partnership initiative: ( He led the efforts to develop the 2017 Affiliated Foundation Bill that was passed unanimously by the House and Senate and signed into law in May 2017; Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland was established in 2019, the first Affiliated Foundation based on House Bill 1619. Hasseltine was instrumental in creating the TEAM Maryland (statewide) initiative and the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance (MAASA) (lower eastern shore). These two multi-jurisdictional initiatives and collaborations are standard bearers for the Sport Tourism industry. Hasseltine was the Chairman of the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC, now Sports Events and Tourism Association – Sports ETA) from April 2013-April 2014. During his tenure as Chairman, the Association saw significant growth in membership, revenues, and increased attendance at their annual Symposium. He served on the NASC Board of Directors for over 10 years; five of those years on the Executive Committee and one year as the first ever Events Right Holder to serve on the NASC BOD. Hasseltine also serves on the Maryland Tourism Coalition Board of Directors, US Sports Congress Advisory Committee and serves in an advisory role with the Maryland Horse Industry Board. In May 2009, the Office launched its first significant marketing tool: a state-of-the art website with searchable sports facility directory (; the site was re-launched/enhanced in spring 2014. The web site is directed to sporting-event and travel industries in the state, national and international markets. Prior to coming to Maryland, Hasseltine was deputy executive director of the Kentucky Sports Authority (KSA) where he developed a 24-member community marketing collaborative to promote the state as a sports travel destination. He played a significant role in the efforts to bring 2008 Ryder Cup and 2010 AllTech FEI World Equestrian Games to the Commonwealth. Before joining the KSA, he was director of operations for the Greater Louisville Sports Commission, a championships administrator/ regional director for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and a site coordinator for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Hasseltine received his B.S. in Sports Management (and Communications) from the State University of New York College at Cortland and is accredited as a Sports Tourism Strategist (STS) from the National Association of Sports Commissions. In addition, he holds the Certified Tourism Network’s accredited of Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA).

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Gregory A. O’Dell, President and Chief Executive Officer Events DC

Gregory A. O’DellGregory O’Dell serves as the president and chief executive officer of Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia. Events DC owns and operates the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Entertainment & Sports Arena, the historic Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and the surrounding Festival Grounds, the Fields at RFK Campus, and the non-military functions of the DC Armory. The organization also built and serves as landlord for Nationals Park, the first LEED-certified major professional sports stadium in the United States, and he administers the historic Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square. The Government of the District of Columbia created the quasi-public Events DC in October 2009 through the merger of the Washington Convention Center Authority and the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission. Mr. O’Dell has the unique experience of leading both organizations as part of his public service in the District of Columbia. As president and CEO, Mr. O’Dell oversees Events DC’s three lines of business: Conventions and Meetings, Sports and Entertainment and Creative Services. His primary responsibilities include oversight of the development and promotion of hospitality, athletic, entertainment and cultural activities that generate economic and community benefits for the residents and businesses of District of Columbia. Prior to the merger, Mr. O’Dell served as chief executive officer and general manager of the Washington Convention Center Authority, where he was responsible for the operations of the 2.3-million-square-foot Convention Center, an award-winning facility that sees approximately one million visitors each year and has generated nearly $6 billion in direct delegate spending since opening in 2003. Mr. O’Dell was also responsible for the Authority’s development efforts, having led negotiations with the selected private developer in the $520 million public-private partnership for the 1,175-room, 46-suite Washington Marriott Marquis Convention Center hotel, which opened in May 2014. Before joining the Washington Convention Center Authority, Mr. O’Dell was the president and chief executive officer of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, where he led the team that completed – in record time and within the legislatively mandated cost cap – the 41,546-seat Nationals Park. Before heading up the Commission, he was the chief development officer for the Government of the District of Columbia, where he was responsible for stimulating and promoting economic development within the District. Preceding his move to District government, Mr. O’Dell worked for the former management and IT consulting firm BearingPoint. While there, Mr. O’Dell advanced to senior manager and practice lead for Construction Advisory Services, responsible for construction and development services to both public and private clients. After leaving BearingPoint, he served as a principal and owner of the Clemens Consulting Group, where he continued to provide consulting services to clients throughout the lifecycle of their development projects. A resident of Ward 6, Mr. O’Dell is the board chairman of the DowntownDC BID and the president of AIPC (International Association of Convention Centers). He also serves on the boards of the Professional Convention Management Association; the Washington, DC Economic Partnership; DC Surface Transit, Inc.; Destination DC; Wofford College; DC Jazz Festival; National Foundation for Affordable Housing Solutions; and Children’s Hospital (Washington, DC). He received a bachelor’s degree in finance and government from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

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Dr. Jessica Hammond-Graf, USA

Jessica Hammond-GrafJessica is currently the Deputy Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator for University of Maryland, Baltimore County Athletics Department. She oversees all student-athlete facing services, such as Academic Services, Sports Medicine, and Strength and Conditioning. In addition, she is the Sport Supervisor for several Division I teams, including Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Women’s Soccer. As a Sport Supervisor, she provides leadership and guidance to coaches as they create championship experiences for their student-athletes. Jessica is also a part-time lecturer in the Athletic Leadership Master’s program at Castleton University. Jessica first played rugby in 1992, with the University of Connecticut, and subsequently won the 1993 National Championship. She has since played for the New Orleans Halfmoons, the West Select side (7’s and 15’s), the Washington Furies, the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union (MARFU) Select side (7’s and 15’s), Atlantis, and the US Women’s National 7’s team on their tour to New Zealand and Fiji in 2003. Jessica also coached at Temple University, the US Naval Academy, MARFU Select side (15’s), and the Chesapeake Women’s Rugby Club. Recently completing her doctorate in Higher Education and Leadership, Jessica researched how rugby can provide a platform to create a process of empowerment for women. She has a master’s degree in Sport Psychology from Temple University and an undergraduate degree in Sport Psychology from the University of Connecticut.

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Blaine Scully, USA

Blaine ScullyBlaine is the recently retired Captain of the United States Eagles national rugby team. He led the team at 2019 Rugby World Cup as Captain. He also played professionally in the United Kingdom for over six seasons with leading clubs Leicester Tigers and Cardiff Blues. He is co-founder and former Chairperson of the United States Rugby Players Association and a member of the International Rugby Players Global Player Council. He is also an ambassador for Play Rugby Foundation. He is rugby leadership expert in residence at Mount St. Mary’s University. He is also co-Founder and Former Chairperson of the US Rugby Players Association and a member of the International Rugby Players Global Player Council. Blaine is currently pursuing an MBA from Saïd Business School, The University of Oxford.

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Christopher D. Dunlavey, USA

Chris DunlaveyChris Dunlavey, FAIA is president and co-founder of Brailsford & Dunlavey, a 28-year practice regularly listed as one of Engineering News-Record’s “Top 50 Program Management Firms” in the U.S. He is also a founder and owner of CENTERS, LLC, the nation's leading provider of outsourced management for collegiate recreational sports facilities for the past two decades. Since 2018, Mr. Dunlavey has also been a leader in the development of Major League Rugby, the premier professional rugby union competition in North America. He serves as both the Chairman of the ownership group for Old Glory DC, which entered league competition in 2020, and as a member of the Executive Committee of MLR's Board of Managers. Mr. Dunlavey is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.

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Kellie Cavalier, USA

cavalier.jpgA sport professional based in the US, Kellie has planned, produced, and executed some of the most impactful rugby events over the past ten years. Kellie is currently the Vice President of Operations for the North American rugby sevens league, Premier Rugby Sevens. Kellie's professional career has spanned the stadium, CVB/Sports Commission, national governing body, and rights-holder spheres with a long-term focus on growing rugby in markets across the US. After getting a start in business and event operations at RFK Stadium and Events DC, Kellie transitioned into rugby management and event production first as the Manager of the USA Women's 7s program and then in USA Rugby's National Office. A nine year tenure with USA Rugby saw Kellie produce and deliver the first ever Women's Sevens Series event in the US (Houston - 2013), Women's Four Nations (Colorado - 2013), USA Men v. Maori All Blacks (Philadelphia - 2013), USA Men v. NZL (Chicago - 2014), USA Men v. AUS (Chicago - 2015), USA Men v. Maori All Blacks and IRE v. NZL (Chicago - 2016), Wales v South Africa (Washington, DC - 2018), Rugby World Cup Sevens (San Francisco - 2018) and numerous other rugby events including women's and men's national team home games, several further Women's Sevens Series events, and collegiate and club national championships. Now, as the Vice President of Operations for Premier Rugby Sevens, Kellie brings her extensive commercial and operational knowledge of the game to a new North American venture. In this role, Kellie marries her passion for increasing sporting opportunities for women and less represented people in the sport with her strong understanding of the business aspects of the game of sevens. Kellie holds a bachelor's degree in International Studies from American University in Washington, DC, as well as an M.S. in International Sport Management from the State University of New York - Cortland, and an M.Sc. in International Sport Management from London Metropolitan University. Kellie also played rugby while at American University and continued playing competitively with the Maryland Stingers and DC Furies after college. She has also played socially with the Ithaca Avengers (NY) and in London.

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Gary Boddington, OLY, South Africa and Canada

Gary BoddingtonGary is the Co-Founder and CEO of PlayWize. Gary played rugby to a high junior level in South Africa before representing South Africa in ice hockey and field hockey, the latter as a member of the 1996 Olympic team. Gary and the PlayWize Team knows the market because they are the market. Having lived and breathed sport, they have seen first-hand the outdated management systems and lack of athlete control. Their team is a combination of ex-Olympians and professional athletes, turned technology experts, who would love nothing more than to help every player in the sporting industry, whether they are an Athlete, Agent, Coach, Parent, Team, Brand or School to make smart moves and take control of their success. Rugby player welfare and opportunity is a central focus of PlayWize efforts. They promise to empower every user through digital transformation as we bring rugby into the future.

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Olubunmi U. Jinadu, Senor Advisor, Baltimore World Cup 2026 Host City Bid

olubunmi jinaduBunmi is Senor Advisor, Baltimore World Cup 2026 Host City Bid. Bunmi Jinadu is a native of Lagos, Nigeria. He received his education from an early age in England before relocating to the United States in 1986. Over the past 22 years, he has distinguished himself as a trusted servant leader and advisor within the Entertainment, Sports, Arts and culture by contributing in the development and retirement of local community’s vision and strategy by contributing to their overall process of visioning and corporate decision-making. By diversifying his experience across these sectors of his field, Bunmi has established an outstanding record for developing tourism products and identifying game changing opportunities for economic development initiatives and prosperity advancement. Bunmi’s ascension to leadership came when he was selected to serve as an advisory board member for DeKalb County’s first ever strategic marketing plan in 2013. By Providing support, advice and direction on MICE -related issues that have a strategic impact on the community. Excelling exponentially, Bunmi found himself as the Co-chair of the task force for sports, entertainment, arts and culture and then moved on to serving as the Chairman of the Local organizing committee for the Nigeria Olympic teams residential camp in Atlanta’s Dekalb County, as part of the 20-year anniversary of the City of Atlanta hosting the 1996 Olympic Games.

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Alejandro Canadas, Argentina and USA

Alejandro CanadasAlejandro is Associate Professor of Economics and Director of the new Center for Integral Economy, Ecology and iMpact (CIEEM) in the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business and Mount St. Mary's University. He is also a current Fellow at the Institute for Ethics for Communication and Organizations (IECO) Research Institute, University of Valencia. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University (England); Technological University of Monterrey (Guadalajara, Mexico); University of La Plata (Argentina); Francisco de Vitoria University (Madrid, Spain); Lumsa University (Rome, Italy); Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Rome, Italy); University of Barcelona (Spain); Pontifical University of Regina Apostolorum (Rome, Italy); University of Navarra, IESE, Business School (Barcelona, Spain). Alejandro played Rugby while he was in High School in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a fan of "Los Pumas," and he enjoys watching all international Rugby competitions. Currently, Alejandro is a member of the "West Carroll Marauders Youth Rugby" family in New Windsor, MD, where his 15-year-old son, Santiago, is playing at the U-16 level

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Guillaume Bodet, France

Guillaume BodetGui Bodet is Professor of Sport Management and teaches sport marketing and management in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences (UFR STAPS) at the University of Lyon 1, where he also leads the MS degree in Sport Management. He is an adjunct professor at the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa (Canada). Before moving to Lyon, he taught sport management at Loughborough University in England. He is a member of the Laboratory of Vulnerabilities and Innovation in Sport (L-VIS) at Lyon where he focuses on the marketing and branding of sport organizations and the consumption of sport. He specifically published two research articles on rugby topics and has many highly regarded publications in sport business including the book Sport Brands. He is a board member of the European Association for Sport Management (EASM) and the scientific chair of the EASM annual conference, and a board member of the Société Savante de Management du Sport (S2MS), a French speaking sport management academic society. He is associate editor of the scientific journal European Sport Management Quarterly and editor of the French-speaking scientific journal Management & Organisations du Sport.

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Selica Winiata, New Zealand

Selica WiniataSelica debuted for the Manawatu Cyclones in 2001 when she was just 14 went on to set myriad records for her province. Her 72 tries are a Farah Palmer Cup championship record in New Zealand, while as of the end of the 2020 season, she has gone on to rack up a record 87 games and 526 points for the Cyclones. Her 110 points in 2012 was a championship record until overtaken by Wellington’s Amanda Rasch in 2018. Back in her usual position of fullback after a 2019 season in the No 10 jersey, Winiata led the Cyclones from a winless season back into the Farah Palmer Cup semifinals, scoring four tries and notably racking up a 23-point haul against the Mako. Winiata debuted for the Black Ferns in 2008 and her 39 Test tries, from just 40 internationals, are second only to Vanessa Cootes (43). In 2016 she was in imperious and prolific tryscoring form, winning the New Zealand Rugby Women’s Player of the Year gong, while in 2017 she crossed for a double in the Rugby World Cup Fnal against England, following her hat-trick in the victory over Wales. In 2013 her try against England at Eden Park was voted the Fans’ Try of the Year. In 2019 she scored one try in four Test appearances for the Black Ferns. Winiata also appeared in 15 tournaments for the Black Ferns Sevens from 2008-16 winning the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2013. Selica has refereed at four events on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and impressed when refereeing at the Oceania Rugby Women's Sevens Championship in November 2019 which led to her selection as a referee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

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