The Insider wonders which team Philippe Maso was supporting at Twickenham, and discovers who’s supporting Mrs Rooney in Dubai

Over a smashing glass of Bordeaux, SAS’s marketing manager Duncan Ash regaled me with tales of his extreme adventures abroad. Being a man who understands the profound nature of risk, he found a novel way of ensuring his safety during one hair-raising bungee jump. “I asked to read the entire contract, and personally sat and checked every single knot,” he said. “Apparently it was the first time anyone had asked to do so.”

Maso might give UK another try …

It was great to see former AXA boss Philippe Maso back in town last week. The charming Frenchman was in London for the England vs New Zealand game at Twickenham. And what a game it was, I might add. Maso was invited to the game by his pals at Groupama, chief executive François-Xavier Boisseau and managing director Laurent Matras. Matras shares some history with Maso, having also worked at AXA. You have to wonder, being French but also having spent so much time in the UK, whether the trio cheered or wept as England lost the game 16-24. All the more so as, contrary to reports of him returning to his homeland, rumour has it Maso is keen to start working again in the UK. Unfinished business, dare I say?

… as big hitters give AXA a miss

Which leads me to the hunt for a commercial chief executive over at AXA Towers, where I hear the bar has been raised very high. If I was Paul Evans, my A-list would include the likes of Chris Hanks, Brendan McManus and Amanda Blanc. It’s a list of big hitters for a big role. But is it likely to tempt the Allianz commercial boss, Willis UK chief or Andy Homer’s number two at Towergate to consider uprooting? My instinct tells me no, and not to expect interim commercial boss John O’Neill to be packing his bags for a return to Ireland anytime soon. So, it looks like AXA could be starting to draw up a B-list – suggestions on a postcard please!

Beyond the call of duty

Now, insurance brokers are a lovely old lot. They’re always willing to listen to their customers and take time out. I know, I’ve spent a lot of time shooting the breeze with them. So it was no surprise to see recently that Coleen Rooney, the lovely wife of that ghastly footballer Wayne, being consoled by an insurance broker in Dubai. The broker’s name is Paul Barnard, and he was pictured in the national press, sitting on a wall, chatting away to Coleen. God only knows what he said. There’s a big difference between advising a client on fire hazards, and trying to soothe the nerves of a wife whose famous husband is accused of sleeping with prostitutes. I’m not sure exactly what brokerage Barnard works for, but if you know, do slip me a line.

Highway to Hell, via Zurich

Listening to the speakers at the Unitas Alliance conference in Leicester last Thursday, I was tickled by a performance from Zurich’s Richard Smith. Smith, head of broker market for the North West, took to the stage dressed in a leather jacket, to the raucous sounds of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. As the final chords died away, Smith stepped up to the microphone. The assembled throng watched, thunderstruck. “A lot of people have blown their own trumpet today,” Smith beamed, before whipping out a Zurich-branded vuvuzela and deafening the front row. Readers would be well-advised to pack their earplugs before agreeing to accompany Smith to any football matches. IT