Musing in the British press on the recent British & Irish Lions rugby tour to New Zealand, former New Zealand All Blacks rugby Captain Sean Fitzpatrick commented that, “this tour is what rugby is all about”. For players and supporters alike, the concept of touring is ingrained in rugby culture at all levels, and the stories that emerge become part of the lore of the game.
My favourite story from the current tour is of the Lions fan who arrived at Ponsonby Rugby Club in Auckland without a roof for the night. On hearing of his plight, the club manager invited him to stay at the family home where her rugby playing sons still live—one of whom just happened to be 20-year-old Rieko Ioane, the current All Blacks winger.
This confirms the legendary nature of New Zealand hospitality, and members of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan who attended the live screening of the second test match at the New Zealand Embassy, Tokyo will certainly attest to that as well. The event was made possible thanks to our partners at the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan and the Ireland Japan Chamber of Commerce, and I would like to thank their executive teams for the effort they put into organising the day.
As a warm-up for the game itself, we were fortunate to hear insights into the place of sports sponsorship in business from Neil Slater, CEO of Standard Life Investments (Japan) Limited, who sponsor the Lions, and representatives of AIG Japan Holdings and adidas Japan K.K. (sponsors of the All Blacks). For me, Slater’s observations on the importance of shared values are of wide application and fundamental to successful collaboration across all types of commercial relationship. Values and purpose define who we are; they are the source of the passion and motivation that drives performance in pursuit of organisational goals.
This is something worth bearing in mind as Brexit negotiations get underway. For firms with a presence in the UK and those that do business with them, an evaluation of Brexit risks and opportunities is a bespoke challenge. While there are key themes of near universal importance, such access to talent, the impact of such issues as cross-border trade and regulation is more nuanced and dependent on the nature of a particular business model.
As progress is made in shaping Britain’s future relationship with the European Union, we hope for an outcome based on values that have long made the UK an outstanding place to do business. These values include openness to trade, investment and ambition, as well as fairness regarding rights and regulation.
Openness and fairness—these are two of Britain’s core values. As long as they endure to shape the country’s commercial identity, Britain will continue to be a great location for business.