Rugby World Cup 2015
© Charlie Bibby

The grand celebration of rugby begins on Friday when England faces Fiji before a global audience in the initial game of the 2015 World Cup. A total of 20 teams with some 600 players will fight it out over 48 games, marking the eighth World Cup since it first launched in 1987.

Large sporting events provide great networking opportunities, a fact that hasn’t been lost on business schools. Long before the official World Cup, for example, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in the US launched the MBA World Cup Rugby.

The 35th edition took place in April 2015 and involved 30 teams from 15 business schools. With more than 800 players present for two days, the organisers made sure there was time for socialising. London Business School celebrated coming top of the women’s championship and Ivey School of Business top of the men’s.

Shortly afterwards, Tuck School of Business hosted the 32nd MBA Soccer World Cup. Sixteen teams from 10 different schools fought for the Cup, which the University of Chicago Booth School of Business eventually won.

Those who prefer other sports meanwhile have the MBA Tournament at HEC Paris, which has been running for the past 25 years on the French school’s campus in Jouy-en-Josas. This is the Olympics of the MBA world. More than 1,500 competitors from 16 schools competed in about 20 sports in May 2015, for example.

“Our goal is to give MBA students from across the world a unique platform to get to know each other and enjoy some friendly competition”, says Michael Thompson, vice-president of the MBAT organising committee. “[It] is all about friendly competition, socialising and celebrations.”

The event is extremely popular, with some schools having to shortlist their participants. There are also competitions for chess, poker and table-football players, a formal dinner, cocktail party and battle of the bands. Once again, LBS came top of the scoreboard, just ahead of HEC.

The next event in the sporting calendar is the MBA Regatta, organised by SDA Bocconi in Santa Margharita, near Genova. The 11th edition will take place at the end of the September, involving boat crews with some 400 MBA alumni and students from 19 of the world leading business schools, including Harvard and LBS.

The event has two divisions, one for more experienced sailors, the other for beginners. “It allows us to open the competition to all participants regardless of their sailing skills”, says Gaia Migliavacca from the organising committee.

One of the missions of the competition is to inspire a spirited and positive attitude in MBA students and encourage them to make decisions under pressure. “The event encourages international networking and stimulates teamwork,” she added.

Stakes are high for LBS. Will it rule the waves and complete a hat-trick? This is a unique opportunity for its MBA students to be number one in the business of sport.

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