Greetings from Alumni: Angus Bujalski, Executive Director of Legal and Governance, Rugby Football Union
4 April 2023
This time around in our Greetings from Alumni series, we interview Angus Bujalski, who currently works as an executive director of legal and governance at the Rugby Football Union in England. During his time at Hannes in 2007, Angus worked as a visiting lawyer.
Hi Angus, how has the spring been so far?
Spring is always a busy but fun time for us, as we have the Six Nations Championships, which is the major international rugby tournament in the northern hemisphere. We have a new men’s head coach, so it has been an exciting time to see how he has been building his team in the build up to the men’s World Cup later this year.
You work as an executive director of legal and governance at the Rugby Football Union in England. Can you tell us about your daily work and what is included in your main responsibilities?
The Rugby Football Union is the national governing body for rugby in England and so has a huge remit — we run the men’s and women’s national teams and operate Twickenham, which is one of the largest stadiums in Europe, as well as governing the 2,000 professional and community clubs, and seeking to grow it for future generations. I am part of the Executive Team here and work closely with the Board, so there is a lot of strategy and management work for all of those areas. I am lucky to have a really broad role — in addition to a legal and regulatory team, I have a team which is responsible for discipline on and off the field (including managing integrity, misconduct, and anti-doping cases, for example), a safeguarding team which both manages cases and works on proactive improvements for clubs throughout the country, and a company secretarial team which manages the corporate governance of companies in the group, including two charities. The role of a legal director in a sports body has changed a lot over the years, and while there is still a lot of legal-related issues, the role has needed more of an eye on comms and public affairs, so I have been fortunate to be in an environment where I can keep learning and developing.
It is a real cliché, but no two days are the same. For the last few days I have been working on the hosting arrangements for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2025, disciplinary cases relating to discrimination, the legal framework around a trial to use instrumented mouth guards to track head impacts in the professional game, and the final aspects of a tender process for the top women’s league and the fallout of two of the top tier club teams entering insolvency earlier in the season, which was an enormous shock to the system. That has been a huge piece of work, with regular work with potential buyers, the players, government, and MPs over the last six months. There is also a huge amount that goes into preparing for a matchday at Twickenham, and I’ll also have a range of things to do on the day itself, whether that’s hosting VIPs, being on call as the executive responsible for major incidents or just smoothing over unexpected wrinkles that inevitably crop up.
During your time at Hannes, you worked as a visiting lawyer. How would you describe the differences in the Finnish and English working culture from a lawyer’s perspective?
The working culture was really very similar. I was seconded from Slaughter and May, which like Hannes is a firm where the standards have to be consistently extremely high. The feel of the firm was also similar — it was a very collegiate and supportive environment, and while everyone did work hard it was a very social place. The one difference was the working day — in English law firms, the day often starts and ends later, starting from 9.30am, whereas in Helsinki everything started much earlier and finished earlier when we could. Getting used to an 11.30am lunch was not easy!
What is your favourite memory from your time at Hannes?
So many happy memories! It was a wonderfully welcoming environment, with great Friday nights in Belge and Teatteri, and I was lucky to be invited back for a few of the legendary Tahko ski trips. The less said about some of those the better! My overriding memory is the kindness and generosity of spirit that everyone showed and made me feel like a real Snelkku person. I also remember a fellow associate being kind enough to correct my English once too, and of course she did it in the politest possible way.
One theme which currently stands out in working life discussions is purpose at work. To conclude this interview, we would like to ask what the things are that keep you going and motivated at work — what is your purpose?
The Rugby Football Union is a very purpose-driven organisation, with well-established core values of Teamwork, Respect, Discipline and Sportsmanship. Those values permeate everything we do, and it is incredibly motivating to be working in an environment where everyone is driven to make the experience of those playing our sport better and more fulfilling. Working in sport and knowing that what you do makes it (hopefully) better for everyone is a reward in itself. Also, working in the stadium is hugely motivating too, as you can see the fruits of your labour every day.