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New Zealand’s All Blacks men’s rugby union national team remain the world’s most prized with a brand value of $282 million, according to a recent study.

International recognition and robust revenues have counteracted the All Blacks’ weakening on-pitch authority, Brand Finance found. Ireland, now the world’s top-ranked team and favorites to win the ongoing Rugby World Cup, have seen a 94% increase in brand value, the largest growth of any team since 2019.

England and France are the second and third most valuable brands, the study says, worth $263.8 million and $159 million, respectively.

A new top dog?

Ireland have consistently been among the world’s top teams, but a newfound dominance exemplified at the World Cup is turning the heads of sponsors and sporting analysts across the world.

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By GlobalData

For the time being, the All Blacks’ worldwide recognition, strong merchandising revenues, and lucrative sponsorship deals make it unlikely that England, France, or Ireland will usurp its leading brand position.

“New Zealand’s All Blacks are synonymous with rugby,” says Conrad Wiacek, head of analysis at GlobalData Sport. “Iconic players like Jonah Lomu and Dan Carter have sustained success and the intimidating Haka has molded the All Blacks into an internationally regarded brand, making the side exceedingly appealing to sponsors.”

But Ireland have the chance to strike an on-pitch blow against the All Blacks when the two sides face off tomorrow (14 October) in the World Cup quarter-final at Paris’ Stade de France.

The All Blacks, three-time World Cup winners, hope to draw on the experience of stars including Sam Cane, Beauden Barrett, and Samuel Whitelock. Ireland only beat New Zealand for the first time in 2016 but were dismantled by the All Blacks in a 46-14 loss at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The annual sponsorship revenue for the Rugby World Cup 2023 is estimated at $144 million spread across 38 active deals, according to GlobalData’s Business of the Rugby World Cup report.

Short-term pitfalls

Ireland and France should be wary of bursting their bubble too quickly, though.

The world’s number one and two sides have seen impressive growth attributed to both teams’ impressive performances and the excitement surrounding a home World Cup in France. 

Both teams must look to consolidate their current position and become household rugby brands for years to come, as seen with New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, England.

“While the likes of Ireland and France have a strong brand image, this is largely built on how successful the current side may be”, says Wiacek. “New Zealand, due to the continuous excellence of the side, have brand partners keen to pay a premium to associate with the team.”

In 2022, New Zealand secured an initial $128.5 million investment from private equity firm Silver Lake and renewed a kit sponsorship with adidas worth $6 million annually.

England also have strong brand equity when it comes to rugby,” Wiacek adds. “This is down to the historic success of the team – and being the only Northern Hemisphere side to win the World Cup”.

Many believe this year is Ireland’s best chance to match England’s 2003 World Cup triumph and make their case as a long-term rugby heavyweight.

An Irish victory against New Zealand would be a symbolic step. On-pitch dominance is not a guarantee of off-pitch brand success, but knocking out the All Blacks would give a clear signal to fans, analysts, and sponsors that the new kid on the block is here to stay.

New Zealand takes on Ireland in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final at 7pm UTC tomorrow (14 October).