Net Worth: €3 Billion
Rugby CV: Wild Rugby Academy Founder, Stade Francais Owner
German billionaire Hans-Peter Wild is the son of Rudolf, founder of the Wild company, one of Europe’s biggest natural ingredients manufacturers. In 1970 he co-founded the famous Capri Sun drinks line and his wealth has continued to rise ever since.
A huge fan of what he, with pun intended calls “the wildest gentlemen’s game”, he has heavily invested in German rugby at a grassroots level to huge success.
They are well on their way to their aim to “make rugby ‘made in Germany’ internationally successful”, taking huge strides into the European Nations Cup top division. Wild has taken this positive attitude to Stade Francais, where he recently acquired a controlling stake in the French club.
Given their recent troubles, perhaps an injection of both Wild’s funds and his attitude could see the Parisians return to the top.
Net Worth: €4 billion
Rugby CV: Racing 92 Majority Owner
Unlike most of this list, Jacky Lorenzetti was never a rugby fan growing up. Growing up in Switzerland and graduating from hotel school in Lausanne he understandably wasn’t exposed to the game.
After founding Foncia, which since 2006 has been Europe’s biggest real estate company, he married his wife in France and caught the bug from her brothers. He was soon so in love with the game that he bought a 62% controlling share in Racing Club 92, then a second division French team.
Now however, they’re anything but second rate. After taking the reins at the club Lorenzetti has built two state of the art training centres, brought in the world’s best players and catapulted Les Ciels et Blancs to the top of European rugby.
While the recent fallen through merger with Stade Francais almost certainly would’ve brought even further domination, Lorenzetti’s finances have still been the source of Racing’s successes and sit as the archetypal example of the power of deep pockets in the Top 14.
Net Worth: $2 billion
Rugby CV: Super Rich Super Fan
Born into poverty, billionaire, former president of Georgia, rugby fanatic. If nothing else Bidzina Ivanishvili must have the richest story of any man in rugby. Having trained in Georgia and Russia as an engineer, Ivanishvili made his fortune buying small companies, revamping their operations and selling them on for profit. Starting with metal manufacturers and continuing until he owned so much of Georgia he decided to rule it.
In 2012 Ivanishvili formed his own political party to challenge the established government and was elected president of Georgia, but suddenly retired from politics in 2013 amid numerous offshore financial scandals. In terms of rugby, Georgia’s national budget is made up of Ivanishvili’s bank account.
We all know of their ambitions to enter the Six nations, and their potential to play at the highest level, and so do they. They’re investing huge time and money in grass roots and underage rugby.
Their hosting of the annual Tbilisi Cup and this years U20 World Championships has put them on the map. With the monetary and political backing of their former president they look primed to follow his example and head for the stars.
Net worth: £1.5billion
Rugby CV: Owner Bristol Rugby
Bristol Rugby and Bristol City FC owner Stephen Lansdown co-founded Bristol-based financial Group Hargreaves Lansdown in 1981.
He’s the richest Briton in Rugby Union with a networth of approximately £1.5 billion. From the 2008–09 season Lansdown financed Bristol Rugby, which only became public knowledge when Lansdown formalised his ownership of the club in 2012.
Networth: $1.7 billion
Rugby CV: Majority shareholder in Montpellier Herault
According to Forbes when Mohed Altrad immigrated to France from Syria in 1969, he didn’t speak French and survived on one meal a day. Now he heads Montpellier-based Altrad Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of scaffolding and cement mixers, with $2.4 billion in revenues and more than 21,000 employees.
He is the main shareholder in Montpellier, saying: “But above all I chose sport… because it reflects the values I have always defended, in my life and within the Group: passion, commitment, the will to succeed while respecting others, the solidarity, in fact, which cements teamwork. And of all sports, rugby, as those who are familiar with it or have played it are well aware, is perhaps the sport which most embodies these values. The MHR, for its part, is rising fast – you only have to look at its remarkable progress this year. And it represents the kind of challenge I like.”
Net Worth: £300 million
Rugby CV: Saracens Owner
For a man worth £300 million, we don’t really hear much from Nigel Wray. Despite the fact that his club are possibly one of the most talked about in Europe the english investment banker is quiet on the scale of a normal man, never mind one that owns a club like his. Often called Britain’s most successful living investor, Wray is the epitome of traditional english demeanour and values.
Having been a sports fanatic all his life, he has collected huge amounts of sports memorabilia, not least owning London Saracens. Having taken charge in the 1990’s Wray remembers attending matches and hearing crowds shout “boring” onto the pitch. Almost everything has changed since then.
The high powered Saracen’s team are also well fuelled financially, having received repeated influxes of cash from their owner. He has never been one to speak out about himself, but Saracens do their talking on the pitch, and under Wray’s control, we’ve all been singing their praises.
Net Worth: Estimated to be around £40m-£50m
Rugby CV: RC Toulon President
Empty vessels and all that…. Not that $40m is anything to be sniffed, but it is surprising considering how much noise he makes.
While he and his comic book publishing company might not rake in as much cash as others on this list, it has been enough to finance his incredibly intelligent rugby dealings.
The early two-thousands saw him import world class talents approaching the ends of their careers. Men like George Gregan and Tana Umaga combined with and mentored unproven youngsters (a certain Sonny Bill Williams) and ensured performances for Toulon’s present and future, for a discounted price.
These days of course, Boudjellal’s wheelings and dealings have become so successful that the club finance their team of superstars without his external input. He may not be the richest man outside of rugby, but nobody has made more money using rugby than he has.
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