Long-term sponsor O2 to jointly fund men and women in RFU renewal
O2, the mobile phone operator, has today sealed a five-year extension to its long-running major sponsorship of the England rugby union teams.
The new agreement with the Rugby Football Union takes effect in September 2021, and, in a significant move, O2, which is owned by Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica, has pledged to equally fund the men’s and women’s game over the course of the contract.
The company will continue to receive branding on the shirts of the England men’s and women’s team’s matchday and training kit.
The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported last month that O2 had agreed to pay £7.5 million ($9.7 million) per year in the renewal.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the start of O2’s sponsorship of England Rugby, initially as BT Cellnet, and the extension takes the commitment to 30 years, making it one of the longest shirt sponsorships on record.
O2 will continue to offer its customers early access to priority tickets and the opportunity to attend player meet and greets, plus a 20 per cent matchday discount on England kit at the Twickenham Stadium store and a competition in which they can win the chance to go on a summer tour with the team.
Meanwhile, the O2 Inside Line content series will continue to provide behind-the-scenes footage of the national teams, including from training camps, and exclusive pre- and post-match content from the O2 Blueroom, all available as a live stream, video and podcast.
In addition, O2 will work to make Twickenham a more connected stadium with 5G and business products and services, and collaborate with the RFU to support grassroots clubs through exclusive rugby community offers.
Bill Sweeney, the chief executive of the RFU, said: “O2 have been a loyal supporter of England Rugby, a partnership that has lasted for 25 years and we are proud to continue to carry their logo front and centre on our shirts for a further five years. O2’s commitment to equally support both our elite teams is commendable and it’s great to collaborate with a partner that truly shares our same passion to see the women’s game flourish and continue to grow for future generations to enjoy.”
Nina Bibby, the chief marketing officer of O2, added: “There has never been a more important time to get behind rugby, a sport we love and have invested in for over 25 years. We are proud to support the RFU through our extended partnership, which we believe is the longest shirt sponsorship in the history of UK sport. Our new agreement brings investment parity from O2 to England Men and England Women. The future for English rugby is bright, and together we want to make sure that rugby emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever before.”Sportcal