Rugby and the First Rugby World Cup

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Marketing Twickenham

The home of the Rugby Football Union

In the late 1970’s West Nally developed a relationship with the Rugby Football Union and its iconic headquarters at Twickenham. A new stand was built, at considerable cost and launched in 1982. West Nally developed a package of rights, exclusive within each product category and covering a 5 year period. It was able to introduce international sponsors as, while the spectators were limited to 62,000 the international television coverage reached 20 million per game around the world.

Each sponsor received 4 advertising boards in camera vision and use of two hospitality boxes where lunch and drinks could be enjoyed in considerable comfort. Tickets and car park passes were included too. The sponsors also had use of a new RFU rose logo for merchandise and promotions, product displays and identification in all RFU publications and programmes. It was a fully co-ordinated programme – achieved by West Nally way ahead of its time.

Rugby World Cup

In 1983, it was agreed by the International Rugby Board that Australia and New Zealand should present a feasibility study on a world event to the Board’s annual meeting in Paris the following March In 1984, a majority vote for the new event ensured that the Rugby World Cup was born. It was West Nally who literally picked up the ball and undertook to provide the finance to a minimum guarantee level of US$ 5 million.

Using its tried and test formula West Nally introduced a select group of companies – each exclusive in its product category – to become the commercial partners across all aspects of the project. There had never been a rugby opportunity of this international scale before. It provided a chance in a lifetime to become associated with an event that compared in status with the World Cup in football and the Olympic Games, yet offered such specific appeal to decision makers in so many countries.

All commercial rights – including stadium advertising and all other advertising opportunities, film, video and publishing concessions, promotional rights and exploitation of the event symbol were made available. Tickets and VIP hospitality, product promotions and displays/services as well as licensed merchandise items were part of the deal.

This inaugural Rugby World Cup was deemed a success with Steinlager, Ricoh and KDD taking up sponsorship involvement and TV coverage secured in 17 territories. It also generated a profit for the IRB of US$1.6 million

By 2003, the Fifth Rugby World Cup had grown from 16 teams to 89 and was ranked 4th in Global Sporting Events after FIFA World CUP 2002, Olympics 2000, Winter Olympics 2002. West Nally had achieved a good beginning…

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