Tom Ilube is at ease with his position as the first black chair of a sports governing body in Britain after arriving at the Rugby Football Union with a packed business and personal CV that includes being held prisoner by the security forces of Idi Amin.
Ilube has replaced Andy Cosslett at Twickenham and officially began work on August 1 with the immediate aim of overseeing the restoration of grassroots rugby to pre-Covid levels.
In 2017 the 58-year-old was ranked first by Powerlist, which details the 100 most powerful people with African or Afro-Caribbean heritage in Britain, on the basis of his success as a tech entrepreneur and philanthropist.
The son of a Nigerian father and English mother, Ilube spent time in Uganda and Nigeria as a youngster and it was in the nation ruled by Amin that one of his more harrowing experiences unfolded.
“We spent a bit of time in East Africa, in Uganda. My dad came over here as a soldier in 1956 and then went into engineering and was posted over there,” Ilube said.
“Actually, it was at the time when Idi Amin took over, which was quite lively. At one point I was tied up and nearly shot by security guys for some random reason.”
Building a winning system that delivers consistent success for the England men’s and women’s teams, growing the sport and improving player welfare are among Ilube’s longer-term aims, but he will also act as a champion of diversity in all its forms.
He believes rugby’s stuffy, elitist image is undeserved and must be challenged, while accepting that will not happen overnight.
“I’m the first black chair of a national sports governing body, which is actually quite interesting in its own right,” said Ilube, whose tech and data-focused business career includes spells as a non-executive director at the BBC and communications company WPP.
“I’m really pleased that rugby was the sport that made someone the first black chair, that’s great. And I’m quite comfortable being that person, talking to people and communicating my thoughts.
Read More Here: