Innovation – what does it look like?

I help run a Legacy Innovation Fund as part of the Rugby World Cup legacy. We managed to raise some money in one of the regions from a series of local companies to deliver a lasting legacy. I helped design a fund that would only invest in innovative and sustainable projects. The idea I hoped would be to find some really imaginative ways for the game of rugby to make itself relevant for the 21st century. I hoped there were going to be new forms of the game for new audiences emerge from this. My idea was that bidders would look to the current problems they face and in understating in their local community would ‘innovate’ to find new ways to attract people back or into the game – or even to picking up a rugby ball regularly and finding an expression of the game to attract new audiences.

Whilst my full experience is the subject of a longer blog over at the Sports Think Tank I am sure you have already guessed that I wasn’t  overwhelmed by the response we got. In fact it was really worrying that despite it saying in capital letters that we didn’t want capital one-off events and they should be innovative and sustainable we mainly got bids for capital and one-off mini tournaments that were likely to happen anyway. I have even had to spend my time describing what innovation looks like to people who I assumed would know.

To be fair I have spent some time with a few projects and will be spending some time with a few more in the lead up to the RWC to help them through the process. We are using BARA to make rugby relevant for the Asian community in Leicester, we are creating some doorstep clubs in another bid. But these are not driven by clubs or the CBs. They are driven from outside.

So the lesson is to make no assumptions when expecting innovation in sport. The NGBs might employ specialists  to think about innovation but from my little experience in one sport this is not what drives the average club member!

Rather than just being disappointed – can you help. What would you do to design an innovative way to deliver a rugby legacy in your local community. Please post a reply or get involved on Twitter 

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