Infront confirms World Rugby offer

15 Mar 2019

By: Sport Industry Group

Infront has confirmed its status as the “preferred commercial partner” for World Rugby’s proposed new Nations Championship.

It follows media reports of a £5bn offer, which has kept alive controversial plans for the new global league.

The concept, formally presented by World Rugby to its member unions in Dublin this week, had been threatened by a parallel Six Nations move to consider selling a stake to private equity firm CVC.

But Infront’s statement emphasised the opportunity its own offer would provide to unions and stakeholders throughout the global game.

It said: “Infront’s comprehensive analysis and business plan will enable World Rugby and its member unions to lift its competitions and events to the next level through the provision of substantial additional funds to invest in the sport globally, from the grassroots up to the professional game. 

“Infront has delivered a sustainable and realistic commercial roadmap within the boundaries set by World Rugby, ensuring the widest possible media exposure and fan access to the competition.”

Notably, the Swiss-based sports marketing agency emphasised that “the proposed business model covers both media and marketing rights but does not include any sale of equity in the competition and therefore full control of the competition and its revenue redistribution model would be retained by the unions, the current major competitions and World Rugby.”

Commenting on the potential partnership, Dr. Christian Mueller, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development at Infront, said: "Our support will enable World Rugby and its member unions around the globe to elevate the game further whilst also providing long-term financial security, across all regions and levels.

“We know how passionate rugby fans are and we want to ensure accessibility for fans globally, supporting World Rugby's vision to continue making the game a sport for all.

“It is in our interests to grow the audience to ensure it is an attractive proposition for both media and sponsors."

Following the Dublin meetings, World Rugby reiterated its confidence in the new concept, committing to work with the International Rugby Players association to address the concerns that remain over player welfare and opportunities for lower-tier nations.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “We are encouraged that the format revisions and robust financial model has been well-received. Everyone, not just the established teams, will benefit, accelerating the development and competitiveness of the global game.

“However, as you would expect in an ambitious, complex and multi-stakeholder project, not everyone is in full agreement on the way forward, including the matter of promotion and relegation.

“This is a pivotal time for the game, and we will continue to engage and consult, but only by keeping the best interests of the global game at heart will we be able to achieve something truly impactful for the future success and sustainability of the game.”

World Rugby Vice-Chairman Agustín Pichot added: “We are at an important time in our game’s history. We have an opportunity to change the landscape of the game for the long-term betterment of all unions.

“We must work together to ensure the best possible future for our sport – a future where everyone is included and where everyone contributes to and benefits from a truly global game.”