Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer has been named the official timekeeper and official watch of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17.

Launched as the first day of the Dubai Sevens got underway, fans watching in more than 100 countries around the world will see TAG Heuer countdown clocks at each match, half-time and full-time. On big screens in the stadium, TAG Heuer will also count down to kick-off.

With more fans than ever before, rugby sevens is a perfect fit with the #DontCrackUnderPressure spirit of TAG Heuer. The motto will be the guiding principle behind TAG Heuer's operations throughout the season and #DontCrackUnderPressure and spotlight videos, highlighting many of the high pressure moments in the game, will feature on World Rugby platforms.

Speaking at the launch in Dubai on Thursday, World Rugby Vice-Chairman Agustín Pichot said: "It's fantastic to welcome TAG Heuer to the rugby family. This will be a great partnership as we join up rugby sevens with this leading brand and countdown to another great season ahead."

Tag Heuer Global Sports Director, Marc Biver said: "We are very proud to be the first luxury watch brand to enter into the world of rugby sevens. The team spirit of rugby sevens ties in with TAG Heuer's #DontCrackUnderPressure motto. The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will give a tremendous visibility to TAG Heuer all around the world."

Sun 11th December 16 :

Article by Switch the Play

It was a real privilege to be invited to speak at Rugby Expo 2016, at the impressive Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Not least because I have always felt I was destined to perform on the big stage in my hometown but more importantly, I was there to talk about the current and hugely important topic of 'Duty of Care' for professional athletes. Switch the Play is a Social Enterprise founded on the core principles of assisting athletes in fulfilling their potential, through and beyond sport. Having a platform to talk so openly about life after sport with industry experts in an area that I know so well was an opportunity to relish.

Throughout the past 12 months, we have often posed the question to our guests and clients, who's responsibility is it to assist athletes with their transition at every age and stage of their journey? Many options are always thrown into the air, such as the last club they played for, the Governing Body, the family, the athlete themselves, the agent and so on. The answers are usually consistent in that it is 'all of the above' and in a collaborative way if we are to tackle the issues that are far too often being reported.

At Rugby Expo this year, the compulsory annual rugby agent's seminar took place not only on the same day, in the same venue, but also immediately prior to the Switch the Play masterclass around how better to assist rugby players with progression planning. It was like the opportunity for an agent to demonstrate to their clients how high they prioritise this topic was presented on a plate. You might be excused for thinking that it was a 'no brainer' and might even congratulate the Rugby Expo organisers for the foresight and for providing the opportunity for agents and intermediaries to demonstrate something that differentiates them from the crowd and committing to take the transition of players 'in their care' seriously. However, rather than point the finger or name and shame which is so easy to do, instead I will simply ask the question; how many of the 120 agents that were present, do you think would be an acceptable number to venture next door to find out more? The answer may be highlighted within the much-anticipated government Duty of Care review, headed up by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, which will be released shortly.

We are confident from our own research that it's certainly not just rugby where long-term athlete responsibility is lower down on people's priority lists. Understanding this, I urge athletes from all sports to take the responsibility into your own hands and understand that no one will have your best interest at heart better than yourself. Regardless of the sport, our research has delivered some consistent results when asking retired athletes to complete their own career Change Curve from their own journey. How many of you can relate to parts of my own personal journey?

The-Change-Curve

We were extremely pleased to have the support of, and to hear the views of Richard Bryan from the RPA, Ben Woods, former Leicester rugby player and now rugby agent, and Chris Bell, former Wasps rugby player and now Wasps Head of Off-Field Player Development. They offered great insights into what challenges the modern-day player faces and what each are doing to play their part in supporting them. This is an area that Switch the Play is passionate about trying to help resolve and we are fully aware there is not an overnight solution, nor one solved by a single organisation alone. With the proactive support that some clubs have shown, coupled with the enthusiasm of some current players reinforces our thoughts and focusses our ambitions to turn those minorities that have approached us, into the majority, as we move forward.

Partnering with Rugby Expo enabled us to deliver an overview of some of the interactive masterclasses we have delivered and allowed us to showcase our impressive list of best in class 'Pracademics' (Practitioners & Academics) that allow us to have such a wide outreach. We were also able to launch our new Athlete Journey which has been developed for the athlete by the athlete.

We are excited about what the future holds and how through our holistic view and the help of passionate people, we can work with the system and help reshape it keeping the athlete as the beneficiary. We are particularly keen to meet stakeholders that share our passion and enthusiasm for developing the next generation of sporting heroes, whilst helping the forgotten majority re-establish themselves too. If you would like to find out more about the work we do and help us drive this important agenda, or if we can help you or someone you may know, then please click here. Visit us at www.switchtheplay.com and follow us on Twitter @Switch_the_Play We look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to one of our events in the near future.

Leon Lloyd
Director - Switch the Play
Author - 'Life After Sport'
Former International Rugby Player

Brumbies Rugby today announced that multinational CFD trading platform Plus500 has signed on as Naming Rights Partner for the 2017 season with Aquis Entertainment continuing as Principal Partner in a unique deal that will see the Brumbies jersey become the most valuable in the Australian Super Rugby Competition.

Plus500 identified the Brumbies as a key partnership opportunity as it looked to build its brand in Australia and add to its existing sponsorship portfolio, which also includes a major sponsorship deal with Spanish soccer giants Atletico Madrid.

Brumbies General Manager – Commercial, Simon Chester, was excited to welcome Plus500 on board and thanked Principal Partner Aquis Entertainment for their willingness to vary the terms of the existing deal to allow it to happen. Chester believes that there is natural alignment with the Plus500 brand.

"We are delighted to welcome Plus500 on board. We are eager to leverage their support of sport around the world and in the process extend the Brumbies already strong global brand.

"Plus500 are a well-renowned organisation, as are the Brumbies, and we are pleased to align with them."

Plus500 Australian CEO, Sean Murphy, was thrilled to be partnering with the Brumbies in Australia.

"We are honoured to be partnering with the Brumbies, a club which has established a strong brand in Australia and across the Pacific. The Brumbies are a natural fit for us, and we share with them a passion for striving for success whilst respecting our customers, fans, partners and employees."

As part of the deal, Aquis Entertainment remains Principal Partner but, in 2017, will feature on the shorts and collar of the playing strip. The Aquis partnership will also extend to include increased support of community programs including pathways, coaching and development.

"We enjoy a very positive long-term relationship with Aquis Entertainment and they have recognised the potential of this opportunity to provide an unprecedented financial boost to the club," Chester said.

"We are also looking forward to the continuation of our strong partnership with Aquis and activating their support of our community programs."

Aquis Entertainment CEO Jessica Mellor said the deal with Plus500 was a strong show of support for Brumbies Rugby and their forward plans.

"As the club's long-term Principal Partner, Aquis Entertainment is committed to the success of the club, on and off the field.

"We're particularly pleased that we've been able to demonstrate this long-term commitment by working together with the Brumbies team to help them secure this outcome."

Plus500 has developed and operates an online trading platform for retail customers to trade CFDs internationally over more than 2,200 different underlying global financial instruments comprising equities, indices, commodoties, options, ETFs and foreign exchange.

Story Contracting, a family-owned infrastructure company operating in rail, plant hire and construction across North England and Scotland, have become an official sponsor of Glasgow Warriors.

Story Contracting, with a regional base in Glasgow, will be the club's official rail engineering partner.

The Story Contracting logo will feature on the right arm of the Warriors shirt and will be seen for the first time when the team take to the pitch at Scotstoun on Friday night to play the Ospreys in the Guinness PRO12.

Story Contracting, who have been awarded a five-year contract with Network Rail, will also be associated with the club's new campaign, 'Always a Warrior', to promote rail travel to and from Glasgow Warriors matches at Scotstoun Stadium.

Glasgow Warriors marketing and partnerships manager Darroch Ramsay said: "We welcome Story Contracting into our family of sponsors and we look forward to working with them.

"It's fantastic news that a national company have chosen to sponsor the Warriors as part of their growth plans for Scotland.

"Part of the work they are doing for Network Rail is to improve disabled access at train stations across Scotland and they are a perfect fit for our campaign to promote rail travel and the use of public transport for our supporters traveling to our home matches at Scotstoun."

Story Contracting's Rail Director for Scotland, John MacArthur said "We are delighted to announce our support to Glasgow Warriors as kit sponsor.

"Given the Warriors performances over the last couple of seasons they are clearly a team that are going places, which aligns closely with our own aspirations in Scotland following the opening of our new regional office in Glasgow."

Thu 10th November 16 :

Rugby Expo 2016: event review

Club rugby can continue to grow fast and its core values are central to its success in a highly competitive sports environment.

Those were among the messages from Premiership Rugby CEO Mark McCafferty to delegates in a packed conference hall on the opening day of Rugby Expo 2016 at Wasps' Ricoh Arena in Coventry last week.

McCafferty was reflecting on the progress made in the first two decades of professional club rugby in England and singled out the role of television in helping the game broaden its appeal and build a new audience.

Gates, which were often in the low thousands at the dawn of the professional era, averaged a little under 14,000 in the last full season with 'Big Games' at Twickenham and Wembley helping broaden the game's appeal and significantly swell the numbers.

And as sports vie with each other and other forms of entertainment for eyeballs and sponsorship spend, McCafferty believes that rugby's core values of sportsmanship, inclusivity, fair play and respect, will help distinguish it and stand the sport in good stead in the years ahead.

McCafferty was just one of the highly influential individuals to take part in Rugby Expo's Day One programme which considered the development of club rugby union and rugby league from the perspective of administrators, the back-office, players and broadcasters.

Heath Harvey, CEO of English and European Champions Saracens, David Armstrong, CEO of hosts Wasps, Nathan Bombrys of Glasgow Warriors and Mike Rush of leading rugby league side St Helens ran the rule over issues ranging from the salary cap and international calendar to succession planning in a session chaired by former Harlequins and Melbourne Rebels chief Marc Evans, while former Wales international Tony Copsey was joined on stage by current Wasps stars Kurtley Beale and Guy Thompson, former Leicester and England wing Leon Lloyd and rugby league legend Paul Sculthorpe to consider the pressures as well as the opportunities facing players in the modern game across both codes.

Attention turned to technology and its impact on key revenue streams in the sport as the afternoon session kicked off with Microsoft's head of sports projects Stewart Mison, Tickets.com managing director Derek Palmer and SnapRapid's Adam Barker addressing the busy conference room.

Delivering the inaugural Spirit of Rugby lecture, Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis also looked to the role of broadcast partnerships in maintaining the health and momentum of rugby against a background of changing consumption patterns among fans.

"Today it is about providing sports content to be viewed at any time of the day on any device," he said.

"Last year 75 per cent of our most popular rugby union and rugby league programming was watched on mobile phones.

"We have to ensure that rugby remains relevant in this box-set, smartphone dependent age. Rugby union and rugby league are fantastic sports and the technical innovation we have introduced has played a vital role in developing both codes.

"I see this as the dawn of a new Golden Era of broadcasting and the challenge for everyone in this room is to embrace technologies, form stronger partnerships and work even harder to attract the next generation of players and fans."

On day two of Rugby Expo, attention turned to the community game, as representatives from clubs across the country were invited along to hear from some of the key decision makers influencing the sport at a grass roots level.

The RFU's head of education development Mark Saltmarsh & head of game development John Lawn tackled young player transition and retention in the morning's session; a challenge faced week in week out by clubs nationwide.

Workshops continued throughout the day aimed at addressing wider issues within the sport including player welfare, age grade rugby, volunteers and artificial playing surfaces.

There were also presentations from Pitchero CEO Mark Fletcher, who presented their new 'Pitchero Play' service and AFL Architects' director of sports John Roberts, who profiled the organisation's work with Clifton Rugby Club.

The final main stage session of the day gave delegates the opportunity to put forward questions to an expert panel comprising Premiership Rugby's community & CSR director Wayne Morris, the RFU's head of club development Simon Winman, head of community at Wasps Neal Coupland and Pitchero CEO Mark Fletcher.

To register your interest in Rugby Expo 2017, visit www.rugbyexpo.com.

 

 

Britvic Soft Drinks and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) have agreed a new four-year partnership that will see Britvic become the official soft drink supplier to Twickenham Stadium for all England rugby international home matches.

As part of the agreement, Britvic will supply a range of its top selling brands, including Ballygowan water, Pepsi, J2O, Drench, Purdey's, 7up and more to the England professional rugby teams, RFU events and competitions, as well as RFU rugby development events.

"Providing the best possible experience for fans attending Twickenham Stadium on a match day is a big priority for us," said Simon Massie-Taylor, RFU Chief Commercial Officer.

"The new relationship with Britvic will enable us, over the coming season, to offer a broader range of beverages and allow fans to have more quality of choice when attending England matches here."

As the official soft drinks supplier to Twickenham Stadium, Britvic will also benefit from a range of partnership rights including match day branding and hospitality packages at Twickenham Stadium.

"We're very excited to be embarking on this new partnership with the RFU," said Russell Goldman, Commercial Director – Licensed, Food service & Leisure at Britvic. "We're delighted to be offering rugby fans a selection of our top quality brands to choose from on match day."

The Rugby Football Union has renewed its long-term partnership with Champagne Bollinger.

The four-year agreement will see Champagne Bollinger continue as the Official Champagne of England Rugby until 2020.

In an expanded partnership, for the first time Champagne Bollinger will become exclusive champagne supplier to Twickenham Stadium for all non-match day events as well as benefit from match day activation and branding rights.

Old Mutual Wealth Series
Champagne Bollinger will also be presented to the Old Mutual Wealth Player of the Match across all England men's and women series games and the Old Mutual Wealth Cup Man of the Match in May.

"Bollinger has become synonymous with England Rugby and the match-day experience in the west fan village at Twickenham stadium," said Simon Massie-Taylor, the RFU's Chief Commercial Officer.

"We have enjoyed a strong relationship over the last 15 years and are delighted to be renewing our partnership once again.'

"There are many shared values that we feel make the collaboration between Champagne Bollinger and England Rugby so perfect," added Victoria Hughes, director of Champagne Bollinger UK.

read more here, http://www.englandrugby.com/news/england-rugby-renew-champagne-bollinger-partnership/

London Scottish are giving fans a chance to support the Down's Syndrome Association (DSA) charity with our match against Ulster 'A' in the British and Irish Cup on Saturday 22nd October at the Athletic Ground.

For every ticket purchased using the special code 'DSAsupport' a donation of £5 will be made to the DSA by London Scottish.

To secure tickets for the match against Ulster A visit https://londonscottish.cloudvenue.co.uk/, select your preferred ticket category and enter the promotion code 'DSAsupport'. Offer is valid online only and expires midnight Friday 21st October.

This is the first time the club has supported the DSA, a national charity which exists to provide information and support for people with Down's syndrome, their families, carers and health professionals.

Alexa Dizon, Head of Fundraising and Events commented: "We are really pleased to be partnering with London Scottish for this match, which provides a great chance to support our charity and also enjoy a fantastic afternoon of rugby at the Richmond Athletic Ground."

London Scottish President Rod Lynch said: "We are delighted to be able to support the DSA and hope to welcome a lot of new faces at the Ulster A B&I Cup match on Saturday October 22nd."

A new generation of rugby stars were born at Worcester Warriors' Sixways Stadium, as over 150 youngsters experienced one of Premiership Rugby's best grounds at the National Urban Rugby Squad Festival.

Northampton Saints were the victors, but representatives from every Premiership club and Championship side London Irish – boys and girls from diverse backgrounds, many of who had never played rugby before – turned out in a fine day's action at Sixways.

The Urban Rugby Squad is a ground-breaking initiative run by Premiership Rugby and its clubs, helping 1,000 young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England.

In its first year, the scheme helped 778 young people and delivered 136 personal development workshops on topics such as anger management and sexual health.
There was some lightning fast feet, brilliant handling and fantastic teamwork on display as each side gave their all.

Though there could be only one winner, what pleased Premiership Rugby's Inclusion and Equalities Executive Tim Mathias most was the pride every side took in pulling on their club's jersey.

"The pitch is fantastic, it looks glorious and it is brilliant to see how proud these young people are in their Premiership Rugby shirts," Mathias explained.

"We are really, really happy to have 13 teams here – I think it is a first for us getting so many teams together to compete.

"The spirit has been competitive, fair and now the sun is out, we get to use this fantastic facility."
And Mathias admitted too that it was a real delight to see such a broad span of people clearly enjoying their rugby and relishing the unbelievable opportunity to play at Sixways.

He said: "We want to get as many people playing rugby that have never played before and I think the best way to do that is through our clubs and inviting kids to our stadiums, our games and getting them to pull on the shirt and be proud of where they come from."

Saints were exceptional all day, showing superb spirit and teamwork to defeat Wasps two tries to one in the final, meaning their Social Inclusion Officer Jordan Letts was an incredibly happy man.

"They have improved so much, some of them have gone from barely even passing the ball to playing at Sixways Stadium," the 23-year-old said.

"To see them win is brilliant, it will boost their confidence no end. Everyone has had a smile on their face and rugby's core values have been on display all day."

The Urban Rugby Squad is a ground-breaking initiative run by Premiership Rugby and its 12 clubs that has already helped 1,000 young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England tackle topics such as anger management and sexual health.

Read more at http://www.premiershiprugby.com/news/the-urban-rugby-squad-national-festival-reaches-new-heights/#6iQbeuRfUy4Z8wyq.99

(NYSE: AIG). The extension strengthens the existing partnership announced in 2012 and reinforces their commitment to the global advancement of rugby from the community level to the All Blacks and other national teams.

"We're delighted that AIG has extended their successful partnership with New Zealand Rugby," said NZR Chief Executive Steve Tew. "AIG has been a great supporter of our game since coming on board in 2012 and contributed to outstanding results off the field, helping profile our teams throughout the world and showcasing the story and teams of New Zealand rugby to millions of new fans from Chicago to China and further afield.

"This is a very positive step for rugby in New Zealand and ensures critical funding to run and strengthen rugby in New Zealand from the community game through to the high-performance level."

AIG has worked with NZR's teams in 64 countries around the world and extended rugby's reach to millions in the past four years, staging world-class events in Beijing, Chicago, Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, and Toronto. Since 2012, rugby has been the fastest growing team sport in the U.S. with over 50 per cent more players involved with the sport.

"We are excited to continue AIG's brand partnership with NZR," said Peter Hancock, AIG President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our sponsorship will continue to serve as a valuable marketing tool and as an inspiration for excellence to AIG people."

The sponsorship arrangement extends AIG's position as the Major Global Sponsor and Official Insurance Partner of New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks for a further six years. The company will continue to directly sponsor the All Blacks, the All Blacks Sevens, the Maori All Blacks, the Black Ferns, the Black Ferns Sevens and New Zealand Under 20 teams.

On November 4 and 5, 2016 AIG is presenting a Rugby Weekend in the U.S. The double-header in Chicago features the All Blacks taking on Ireland and the Maori All Blacks against the USA.

Since the partnership got underway in 2012, New Zealand teams have achieved unprecedented success with the All Blacks securing back to back Rugby World Cups, the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens winning the Sevens World Cups; World Championship wins for the New Zealand Under 20; and the Black Ferns Sevens team securing silver in Rio.

AIG was recognized as Rugby Sponsor of the Year and received the prestigious Sport New Zealand Recreation Award for Commercial Partnership in its very first year of its sponsorship. In only four years AIG was recognized by its peers and fans as Rugby Sponsor of the Decade.

The agreement continues to highlight the importance of preparation and safe, respectful participation in the sport and includes an ongoing commitment to funding community outreach and education programmes that promote rugby safety and player wellbeing as well as the culture and values of rugby.

"AIG has been great to work with, taking time to understand our game, our people and our heritage," said Steve Hansen, the All Blacks Head Coach. "This already solid foundation will strengthen further so we can continue to grow our game at home and around the world."