Vodafone has been the principal sponsor of Irish Rugby since 2016. (IRFU)
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), Irish rugby union’s governing body, has renewed and expanded its tie-up with the Irish branch of telecommunications provider Vodafone.
The deal, which starts in July 2024, will see Vodafone continue its position as principal sponsor of the Ireland men’s rugby team until 2028 and extends the telco's support of the IRFU beyond a decade, over which time Ireland has twice become Six Nations champions.
Vodafone’s sponsorship of the Women’s Interprovincial Championship will also continue and Vodafone's logo will be present on the back of jerseys for the Ireland Women’s rugby team.
Vodafone has sponsored the Women’s Interprovincial Championship since 2020 and is now extending its support of women’s rugby in Ireland to the national side.
Vodafone will continue to provide exclusive content around the IRFU for fans as part of the deal, with fans and players alike set to be able to access new and existing 5G technology.
Kevin Potts, IRFU chief executive, said of the partnership’s continuation: “Since 2016 Vodafone has been the official sponsor of Irish Rugby and together, we have experienced great success.”
Potts continued: “As a not-for-profit, the revenue from sponsorship deals such as these are crucial to the delivery of our plans to ensure Irish rugby teams remain competitive on the global stage.”
The latest extension is reported to be worth as much as €20 million ($17.3 million).
The renewal of the deal comes off the back of August’s announcement that Ireland players and coaches will be able to access the “Vodafone Technical Area”, wherein 5G Standalone Mobile Private Network (MPN) technology will be installed.
This MPN will allow faster connectivity on the touchline, where previously they had to rely on third-party Wi-Fi.
Alongside artificial intelligence technology provided by Swedish tech company Ericsson, the high-speed 5G connectivity can be used for real-time game analysis and instant feedback. This will be aided by 5G-enabled drones capturing performance and analyzing data for coaching staff to utilize.
This marks a continuation of Vodafone’s efforts to intertwine itself with rugby throughout the UK & Ireland. In June, Vodafone was announced as the new front-of-short sponsor of the Wales Men’s rugby union team. This came as part of a partnership expansion with the Welsh rugby union’s governing body, the WRU.
Under the deal, Vodafone became the principal partner of the men’s senior squad and pathway teams, including the U20s and U18s, adding to its existing WRU deal as a principal partner of the Wales women and girls’ rugby teams.