Rugby Union

Guinness Six Nations title deal confirmed

Guinness has been confirmed as the new title sponsor of the Six Nations, with the Championship to be renamed as the Guinness Six Nations from 2019. 

The new six-year deal strengthens the Irish stout brand’s commitment to rugby, adding to its portfolio that includes the Guinness PRO14 and partnerships with the four Home Unions as well as leading European clubs Leinster and Munster. 

Guinness says it will use the partnership “to champion both the player and fan experience,” committing to encourage adult fans watching or attending the games to drink responsibly. 

Sportsbeat wins EPCR brief

Sportsbeat, the sports content division of Beat Media Group, has been appointed to manage the social media channels for Europe’s premier club rugby competitions, following a competitive pitch.

The agency will provide video production services, live match video clipping, social media content management and creation and live reporting for both the Heineken Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup. All content will be produced in multiple languages.

New CMO for World Rugby

World Rugby has announced the appointment of former F1 digital media head Marissa Pace as its new chief marketing officer.

With a background in global sports and major brand marketing, the Canadian will officially begin her new role as head of a newly-formed Marketing Department in mid-January. Pace will be responsible for the international federation’s fan engagement and marketing strategies.

Onwards delivers England Rugby rebrand

London-based brand agency Onwards has overseen a project to deliver a new visual identity and brand positioning for England Rugby ahead of the 2019 Six Nations and Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Onwards, which was shortlisted at the BT Sport Industry Awards 2018 for Young Agency of the Year in association with Getty Images, was tasked with bringing to life the RFU’s core ‘The Game of our Lives’ positioning launched in November 2017.

Steve Brown To Stand Down As RFU CEO

RFU chief executive Steve Brown has confirmed that he is to depart his role with the governing body of the English rugby union at the end of the year.

The news comes a matter of weeks away from a Rugby World Cup year and just 14 months after Brown replaced his predecessor in the role, Ian Ritchie.

Brown joined the RFU in 2011 and aside from his recent position as CEO, which he took over in September 2017, he has worked across a number of high-profile roles, including chief financial officer, chief officer business operations and managing director of England Rugby 2015.

Snack Media Expands Rugby Portfolio

Sport digital specialist Snack Media now claims to represent the largest independent online rugby network, having expanded its existing portfolio of 350 sports websites by securing Rugbypass.com and the RugbyPass Network.

The announcement coincides with the start of the 2018 Autumn Internationals and comes ahead of a busy 2019 calendar, which will include the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

OPRO extends with NZ Rugby

Specialist UK sports protection manufacturer OPRO has announced the extension of its long-term partnership agreement with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) as the All Blacks prepare to take on England at Twickenham this weekend.

The deal – the latest in a string of international partnerships signed by OPRO – will see the mouthguard manufacturer provide protection to players throughout the NZR elite performance programme.

The agreement covers the All Blacks, Black Ferns, All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens teams, Maori All Blacks and Under 20s teams.

Little Dot to run Premiership YouTube channels

Gallagher’s Premiership Rugby and Little Dot Studios have announced a new digital distribution partnership for the studio to manage the league’s YouTube channels. 

The partnership, which came into force at the start of the 2018-19 season, aims to strengthen the presence of Premiership Rugby on the YouTube platform. 

Little Dot Studios has been tasked with helping to reach a new generation of fans. Its role will include optimising and creating content around weekly matches; producing highlights and compilations as well as other content. 

New Twickenham gates open

Fans attending the Quilter International match between England and South Africa at the weekend were the first to enter Twickenham Stadium via two new gateways.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) commissioned London architects WilsonOwensOwens (WOO) to create the new entrance to the ‘home of rugby’, which also features new British Airways-branded turnstiles and welcome areas.

Specialist architectural practice WOO, whose previous projects have included London 2012, Emirates Stadium and the NFL Super Bowl, designed the new structures from standing seam zinc.

Alexa: has O2 launched the first Rugby Skill?

England Rugby sponsor O2 has launched a rugby union Skill for Alexa-enabled devices as part of its activation around the upcoming Quilter internationals.

The brand has teamed up with playing legend Jonny Wilkinson to create the ‘Wear the Rose with O2’ Skill for Alexa, which will feature exclusive content, including the Rugby World Cup winner’s thoughts on the England squad, pre-match predictions and a post-match review.

Users will be able to hear the latest news from inside the England camp and access the England Rugby Podcast: O2 Inside Line, with host Vernon Kay.

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