English rugby union’s top-tier Premiership Rugby has renewed its partnership with Land Rover which will see the UK vehicle brand’s Defender SUV continue as the league’s official vehicle partner.
The partnership will see Land Rover activate its partnership during key periods of the Premiership Rugby calendar including ‘Derby Weekend’ in round 6 (November 17 to 19) and during the Premiership Rugby Final on June 8, 2024.
The deal will also see the continuation of the Defender Premiership Rugby Cup grassroots program, which has seen more than 100,000 young people discover rugby since 2008.
The relationship between Premiership Rugby and Land Rover began in 2002, with the last renewal between the pair struck in January 2021. The brand is the league’s longest-serving sponsor.
Mark Brittan, chief commercial officer at Premiership Rugby, said: “Land Rover has been a loyal partner of Premiership Rugby for over two decades and we are thrilled to continue this relationship further with Defender.
“It is an incredibly exciting time for Premiership Rugby, with several transformative initiatives on the horizon, and we are delighted to see Defender’s commitment and confidence to extend their relationship with us as we embark on a momentous period of innovation and progression for the organization and the sport of rugby.”
The renewal will extend Land Rover’s involvement in the UK rugby union scene to more than two decades, notably sponsoring six British and Irish Lions tours as well as having deals with Welsh regional rugby team Cardiff Blues and Scotland’s Glasgow Warriors.
On a global level, the brand was an official sponsor of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and stepped up to worldwide partner level for the 2015 edition in England and the 2019 tournament in Japan.
The brand is also currently acting as a worldwide partner for this ongoing 2023 Rugby World Cup in France after holding the same designation for the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Anthony Bradbury, marketing director of JLR UK, said: “We have proudly supported Premiership Rugby since 2002, an affiliation which is a perfect fit for Defender.
“We are delighted to be renewing this exciting partnership which will also see the continued rollout of the grassroots rugby program – an opportunity to further celebrate our shared values of strength and capability.”
Premiership Rugby’s portfolio of partners, meanwhile, includes insurance firm Gallagher as title sponsor, Gilbert, the rugby equipment manufacturer, financial services company eToro, ticketing company Ticketmaster, commercial bank Funding Circle, and UK pay-TV broadcaster TNT Sports.
The partnership renewal comes after it was reported Premiership Rugby is rushing to secure its next rights deal with current rightsholder TNT Sports amid the broadcaster’s negotiations to retain its domestic rights to soccer’s English Premier League (EPL).
TNT Sports, which was rebranded earlier this year from BT Sport, has only one season left before its three-year domestic rights deal to show the Premiership expires. However, TNT executives are now looking to secure a discount on the next cycle due to three clubs being suspended amid a financial crisis within the game.
London Irish were suspended from the league in June after missing a deadline to pay staff and players. The club was then unable to prove it had sufficient finances in place to compete in the 2023-24 season.
The Wasps and Warriors collapsed financially within the first six weeks of the 2022-23 season, leading the RFU governing body to first suspend and then remove them from the league last October.
TNT, which is a joint venture between BT and media giant Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), initially considered demanding a refund due to the reduced value of its rights but is now looking for a discount on the next three-year contract.