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Rotherham Titans

A workforce of 70-somethings, salsa, spiritual healing, karaoke, quiz nights and the occasional funeral – when you’re Rotherham Titans, it takes more than just rugby to keep things ticking along.

Phil Duke emerges from the Rotherham Titans clubhouse beneath a sign with the words writ large, ‘Good People, Good Environment’. A gentle giant of a man, he’s been painting one of the offices inside and is coming out to have a chat with his former team-mate Dave Hudson who’s been busying himself with the electrics pitchside. “See that grey box down there,” Dave points out what we guess is a junction box attached to the fencing, “well, I’m taking power from there and taking it out to the shed over there – we’re going to have some electric signs towards the road, advertising the club."

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Tony Rowe, Exeter Chiefs

A car accident and a packet of fags led him to amass a collection of 384 fire engines of assorted sizes. A moment of inspiration led him to build a multi-million-pound business in an industry he knew nothing about. and when a friend asked him to help a club ‘on their arse’, he turned them into champions of england. These things happen when you’re Tony Rowe.

Tony Rowe finishes making wife Sharon a cup of tea and takes it upstairs. After delivering it, we can hear his parting response to her query of what we’re talking about, “Just bits and pieces,” he says.  In the life of the Exeter Chiefs chairman there’s been an awful lot of bits and pieces.

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Mike Rayer

Steel worker, garage manager, mobile crane salesman, international, European Cup finalist, world’s first transfer fee rugby player (probably), American rugby galactico (almost), All Black beater (nearly), Don King victim, Cardiff legend, beer muse, and England’s longest-standing director of rugby – life has never been dull for Mike Rayer.

Every day Rory Underwood, Scott Murray and Paul Turner look down upon Mike Rayer’s desk in his portacabin office at Goldington Road, Bedford. Pinned to a wall in a team photo, they’re just a few of the names in the line-up that wore the Bedford Blues colours in England’s highest rugby division. “That was twenty years ago this year,” explains Mike. “We’re having a bit of a reunion at the end of season club dinner, so I’ve been in touch with quite a few of them recently – a lot have come through actually.

“Today I’ll have 800 people dining and we’ll take £130,000 on the bars. We’re Heineken’s largest single drop-off customer, I think we sold 340,000 pints last season.”
— Tony Rowe