Jamal Niaz rugby
The final edition of our ‘Overcoming Challenges in Business and Sport’ series focuses on Sale Sharks and England legend, Mark Cueto. From being one of the most decorated players in Premiership history to becoming head of commercial at Sale, Mark discussed his storied career and his transition to the world of business at our star-studded panel event.
The former England winger reflected on his unconventional entry into the world of Rugby Union. At an age many teenagers were thinking about college, Cueto decided to give a career as a Rugby player a shot after his previous pursuit of professional sport had alluded him:
“I can sit here pretty proud of what I did, I was a failed footballer actually. I was football all the way from when I remember growing up as a kid up to 15-16. I sort of fell into Rugby and fortunately managed to carve a career out of it”
“Whether you look at Football, Rugby or Boxing, most people who reach the top have been in it since they remember. So for me to pick up a Rugby Ball at the age of 17 and do what I did, I’m pretty proud of it”
Cueto went on to leave his mark on the sport, receiving an MBE for his services to Rugby and he still remembers fondly the ups and downs that shaped his career:
“To win a league title with Sale Sharks and to play for England over 50 times, even that World Cup in 2007 I still get asked about that every day. Unfortunately, my left foot was too big and the try was disallowed”
Despite the endless mentions about Cueto’s famous World Cup try that never was against South Africa back in 2007, he’s still immensely proud to have represented his country on the grandest stage:
‘It wasn’t a regret but obviously if I was sat here now having won a World Cup and have been that try scorer it would have been amazing. It wasn’t meant to be but I was lucky enough to play in a World Cup final and another World Cup as well. So for me I couldn’t have been happier with how it all panned out to be honest”
Since his retirement in 2015, Mark has gone on to represent Sale in a commercial capacity and has taken his new career path fully in his stride:
“The office environment is something I’m relatively inexperienced in so you try and use what made you successful as a player, you try to bring them into whatever environment you’re in”
The head of commercial also gave an insight into the biggest things he has learnt since undertaking his new role:
“It’s not about always thinking you know the right answers, you’ve not always got that key to fill a stadium or to bring a new sponsor in. It’s about trying to build relationships with the team around you making them confident to make decisions and to go with ideas and instincts they’ve got”
It's claear that Cueto is never short of motivation and inspiration when looking at those around him helping to improve the Sharks behind the scenes each year:
“I think overall it’s gone relatively well, the opportunity that Ged, Simon Orange and Dimes gave me when I finished my career and the support that the lads give me every day is incredible. I’m learning a lot and there’s not many blokes better to learn from in business than Ged"