Image: Exeter Rugby Club/Pinnac;le Photo Agency.
Exeter Chiefs and Samurai Sportswear are predicting a bright future ahead after today agreeing a new long-term contract.
The five-year deal will see the Norfolk-based sportswear manufacturer continue to supply the Aviva Premiership club with its innovative range of playing kit and off-field leisurewear, as well as providing an extensive range of kit and clothing for the club's support base.
The partnership, which was first signed in 2010 before the Chiefs were promoted into English rugby's top flight, is the joint longest of its type in the Premiership, with both parties sustaining growth and considerable success in the years that have followed.
Founded in 1996 by current Managing Director, Terry Sands, Samurai is renowned for producing custom made rugby kits, including its advanced ICONIX shirt created using an exclusive 4D Performex fabric to offer the ultimate levels of comfort and performance.
Liaising closely with Chiefs players and staff, work has already commenced on the design of new match and training kit for the 2016/17 season, all of which will be available ahead of next season's Premiership and European campaigns.
Welcoming the new deal, Exeter Rugby Club chief executive, Tony Rowe OBE, said: "As a club we're very happy to be continuing our working relationship with Samurai, who have been with us ever since we broke into the Premiership and Europe and have joined in our success of recent years.
"Making sure we provide our players with the best kit the market can offer is important to ensure they can maximise their performance on the pitch and continue to help build the Exeter Chiefs brand off it.
"The last six years has been an incredible success story for the club and for Samurai and we will both continue to work hard to ensure the future is just as prosperous."
It's a view echoed by Terry Sands, who added: "We are honoured that Exeter Chiefs have chosen to extend their partnership with us. We have a great working relationship with everyone at the club and they continue to set the standards for other clubs to aspire to.
"The Chiefs are an established Premiership club with a burning ambition to be continual top four contenders and a real force in Europe. The club's focus on development makes them the perfect fit for the Samurai brand and we look forward to seeing our logo on their kits for many years."
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has announced a partnership with Mitsubishi Motors, who will become an Official Partner of England Rugby from the start of the 2016/17 season.
The long-term relationship will see the Mitsubishi Motors logo feature on the front of next season's England U18 and U20 playing and training kits.
Mitsubishi Motors to become Title Partner of Exeter leg of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series
The agreement will also extend to Title Partnership of the Exeter leg of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series, taking place at Sandy Park in July 2016, which will become the Mitsubishi Motors Exeter Sevens. The Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series 2016 is a three leg Series comprising Tournaments in Moscow and Gdynia, after which the winning team will be crowned European Champions. For 2016 only, England and Wales will be replaced by two teams from Great Britain who will use the Series as part of their final preparations for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Commenting on the partnership, RFU Chief Executive, Ian Ritchie, said: "We are thrilled to confirm Mitsubishi Motors as an Official Partner of the RFU.
"As a globally recognised brand with strong heritage in innovation and high quality performance, Mitsubishi Motors is a great fit for the RFU.
"We look forward to the exciting initiatives that we will work on together throughout the partnership."
Lance Bradley, Managing Director, Mitsubishi Motors UK, added:
"Mitsubishi Motors is delighted to become an Official Partner for the Rugby Football Union from September 2016, supporting the England under 18s, the under 20s squad and the Mitsubishi Motors Exeter Sevens.
"It's not only great news for us, but for our dealer network, our customers, and all rugby followers. The ethos and values of the game align perfectly with our own and the partnership announcement comes as a natural development of the work we are doing, and have already done to support some of the UK's leading rugby clubs and players."
The world #1 NZ Kiwis will wear BLK jerseys into next year's Rugby League World Cup campaign and beyond.
New Zealand Rugby League has confirmed a renewed four-year contract with the global sports apparel company that ends on December 31, 2019. The agreement will also cover the Kiwi Ferns women and Junior Kiwis programme. The Kiwis men have worn the BLK (Beyond Limits Known) brand since 2012.
"We're proud to continue our sponsorship of the world's top-ranked New Zealand national rugby league team," says BLK chief executive Tyron Brant.
"The Kiwis have a very clear strategy on how they want to lift their profile and BLK is excited to be part of that
In recent years, BLK and NZRL have produced an exciting range of merchandise for Kiwis fans around the world, and 2016 will be no different.
The latest offerings will be officially launched next month, as the Kiwis prepare to defend the Bill Kelly Cup and world #1 billing against Australia in Newcastle, May 6.
"Their unique team culture makes our Kiwis one of the iconic brands in New Zealand sport," says NZRL commercial general manager Sarah Lewis.
"BLK has certainly helped us extend that design footprint internationally by bringing our culture to life with its distinct and innovative garments.
"The World Cup offers a great opportunity to develop that identity even more. We're sure our passionate fans will find something in the next BLK release that will make it easy for them to show support for their team, whether that's by wearing a replica jersey at our games or our styled casual gear away from the stadium."
The British & Irish Lions and Thomas Pink have renewed their partnership for the 2017 Tour to New Zealand, it has been announced.
Thomas Pink – the Modern British shirtmaker – will once again provide the best players from the Home Nations with official outfits for the tour, including the iconic blazer and tie and the brand's game-changing Athletic Fit shirt.
For the 2017 Lions Tour retail collection, Thomas Pink will design a full range of formal and casual outfits. The range will ensure fans are as stylish as The British & Irish Lions themselves, offering a collection delivered with style and verve.
The Thomas Pink Lions collection will retail from October 2016.
To mark this, the brand will launch its very own tongue-in-cheek rugby club, captained by one of the all-time Lions' greats and incorporating consumer events, an online content hub and monthly newsletters.
The 2017 British & Irish Lions wardrobe features an official Tour blazer and evening jacket – "No. 1s and No.2s" in Lions' speak – as well as selection of casualwear for downtime between matches, training, travel and official functions.
Commenting on the renewed partnership, British & Irish Lions Chief Operating Officer Charlie McEwen said: "We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Thomas Pink. The 2013 squad were superbly dressed as befits the Lions and we have no doubt that the 2017 touring party will be equally well tailored in line with Thomas Pink's tradition of quality and workmanship."
Jonathan Heilbron, President and CEO of Thomas Pink said: "We are delighted to be involved with the British & Irish Lions once again. Our last collaboration was a huge success and we take great pride in dressing such outstanding rugby players, while our new casual rugby range will ensure the fans are as stylish as the players.
"When our Lions' collection launches in October, fans will also be able to join Thomas Pink's own rugby club, captained by a Lions' legend."
Rugby Expo has today confirmed its renewed partnership with the Association of Rugby Agents (ARA) and Agents Review Board (ARB), which will see the Home Unions Agents Annual Seminar held at the event for the third year running.
Today's announcement also confirms the ongoing support to Rugby Expo from the RFU who, alongside the WRU, IRFU, RPA, IRUPA, Premiership Rugby and English Championship, work in partnership with the ARA to deliver the seminar. Continuing the longstanding partnership with Rugby Expo, the RFU will work closely with the event for 2016 ahead of its debut at the Ricoh Arena on 03-04 November.
The Annual Seminar, which brings together all registered agents and wider stakeholders responsible for the management and wellbeing of professional rugby players, will take place on the morning of the professional game-focused day one of Rugby Expo (03 November); all attendees will then be given full access to both days of the event.
Commenting on today's announcement, Jonathan Wilson, Rugby Expo event director, said: "We are delighted to renew our partnership with the ARA; the annual seminar is a key date in the organisation's calendar and is attended by all registered agents and board members as well as other rugby stakeholders.
"It is the third year that Rugby Expo will have all registered players' agents in attendance and the ARB's decision to move its seminar to the Ricoh Arena demonstrates the strength and value of the partnership. The opportunity for our event's exhibitors and delegates to meet and engage with the individuals and companies that work closely with the sport's professionals is another reason why Rugby Expo maintains its position as the meeting place for those in the sport of club rugby."
Rob Andrew MBE, professional rugby director at the RFU, said: "This will be the third year that we have hosted the Agents Seminar at Rugby Expo and the move to the Ricoh Arena provides us with a great opportunity to deliver the event at another fantastic venue, and one that is so easily accessible for our members and stakeholders.
"The Agents Seminar continues to provide an ideal platform for bringing together agents, clubs, home unions and stakeholders in a forum designed to focus on the business and development of rugby; education, communication and awareness of important issues is the key to the success of our sport and the presence of the Agents Seminar at Rugby Expo provides a great forum for facilitating this."
Mark Spoors, ARA chairman, added: "We have had fantastic feedback from our members following last year's Agents Seminar at Rugby Expo so it is great to be able to confirm our partnership again with the 2016 event. The Ricoh Arena is ideally-located in the centre of the country and a fantastic venue for us to invite our members and wider stakeholders to.
"Rugby Expo continues to provide our members with a wealth of information and contacts within rugby and the wider sports industry and it is a fantastic way for us to help to maximise their ARA membership further."
Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced today that Falken Tyres are the new Official Tyre Partner of the Qantas Wallabies.
Falken will have signage rights at domestic Test match venues, starting with the highly anticipated three-Test England Series which kicks off at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on 11 June.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said: "We are thrilled to welcome Falken, a global high performance brand, as a valued partner of the ARU."
"It's a very exciting period for the Qantas Wallabies, with the England Series, The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Tests coming up on home soil this year. We are looking forward to working with Falken as they activate their partnership with us."
ARU General Manager – Commercial, John Nicholl said: "It's great to welcome an organisation like Falken into our partnerships family. As they continue to strengthen their brand position in the Australian market, I am sure we will enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship."
The partnership also extends to City Discount Tyres, which is operated by Sumitomo Rubber – the parent company of Falken Tyres.
Director & Executive General Manager of Falken, Koji Aoyama said: "We're delighted to partner with the Wallabies as they're a team that embody the spirit of Australia. The Wallabies have such an iconic brand and we're honoured to be associated with them."
Managing Director of Falken, Kenichi Furuhama, added: "When you look at the Wallabies' values – passion, integrity, solidarity, respect and discipline – they share so much common ground with us."
"Our goal is to be the most respected tyre brand in Australia, and with this partnership we hope to achieve this. Falken has been in Australia for decades as a major player in the tyre industry and we're now transforming ourselves to be a truly global brand."
Wasps have today announced a partnership with Fitbit, the leader in the connected health and fitness market, as the club's Official Wearable Technology Partner.
With industry-leading fitness trackers, impactful data and virtual coaching, Fitbit helps athletes, coaches and consumers train more effectively and reach their performance and fitness goals at any level.
Fitbit will work closely with Wasps, supplying their devices to the senior and academy squads and provide coaches with a comprehensive data management dashboard to further develop and enhance their performance, whilst ensuring personal goals are being achieved.
Wasps' Group Commercial Director, Luke Organ, said: "This is another step in Wasps' ambition to work alongside global brands which successfully push the boundaries and are leaders in their respective fields.
"We are extremely excited about our partnership with Fitbit, which will create a platform to further improve our ability to deliver live analytics and provide clear visualisation of players' physical performance and development.
"We are continuously exploring ways in which we can develop our performance as a team and as a business, through the latest technology. In-stadia research is underway to establish further opportunities to engage and track customer insight in order to enhance fans' match day experience. We look forward to working with Fitbit, who join a strong portfolio of brands who will help us achieve these goals.
"By supporting a team such as Wasps, Fitbit devices and data will provide an enhanced training experience for players and coaches alike, enabling them to access deeper data insights to help refine training plans," said Gareth Jones, VP and General Manager for Fitbit EMEA.
"Because our trackers are designed to be worn all day, not just on the field, monitoring key data such as continuous heart rate, resting heart rate and sleep patterns is now much easier. Via the app and dashboard, Fitbit devices deliver a powerful set of data that can help Wasps make smart training decisions and push team performance harder; we're excited to see the results."
The UK's number one selling Alcoholic Ginger Beer, Crabbie's is to be an official partner of Scottish Rugby until the end of the 2017 season.
The agreement begins immediately, and will see Crabbie's have a sponsorship package and pouring rights at BT Murrayfield, starting with the RBS 6 Nations match versus France on Sunday.
Crabbie's will also benefit from sponsorship of the 1872 Scottish Cup trophy and branding rights at both Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors for the duration of the 2016/17 season
The alcoholic ginger beer brand will capitalise on a marketing campaign, including naming, pouring, sampling and hospitality rights and will use the partnership to support trade sales and brand visibility around key rugby occasions with consumers in the on and off trade.
Crabbie's was established in 1801, when Crabbie's Ginger Wine was originally produced in Leith, Edinburgh by John Crabbie & Co. Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer is the number one selling brand in the category and is no stranger to high profile sponsorships, including the recent return of Channel 4's TFI Friday, title partner of the World's Greatest Steeplechase, The Crabbie's Grand National and sponsorship of Hibernian F.C.
Halewood International Marketing Controller, Claire Kelly, said:
"We are thrilled to become an official partner of Scottish Rugby. We're very proud of our Scottish heritage and we are excited to bring the Crabbie's brand to the devoted and passionate fan base. The partnership gives Crabbie's a new platform to showcase our product to consumers, both at home and internationally."
Toni Blackhurst, Head of Marketing and Sponsorship at Scottish Rugby, said:
"We are delighted to announce this partnership with a brand with so much heritage and history in Scotland. We believe that this relationship will be a win-win in enhancing our matchday offering for fans and we look forward to a successful partnership between Scottish Rugby and Crabbie's."
Scottish Rugby has agreed a four-year extension with its official kit supplier Macron that will see the Scotland national team wear its shirts until the end of June 2021.
The new agreement shows a substantial increase in Macron's investment in Scottish Rugby and sees the kit supply contract combine with Macron's existing role as official retail and online partner to form a larger, consolidated deal.
As well as kitting out the country's two professional clubs, Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby, Macron will continue to supply match and training kit to all of Scotland's men's and women's age grade and representative teams.
The deal will also include the supply of bespoke playing kit to the Scotland 7s squad, who compete internationally in the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series throughout the season.
Fans can continue to buy the extensive range of official Macron merchandise all year round at BT Murrayfield's Macron store and on Glasgow Warriors match days, at Scotstoun in Glasgow.
Macron will also operate the official Scottish online store at shop.scottishrugby.org with the fulfillment of all orders being processed directly from a soon to be completed warehouse facility at BT Murrayfield.
The Italian technical sportswear manufacturer, which is based in Bologna, will continue to supply a wide variety of high street and online retailers across the UK, with Scottish Rugby directly benefiting from all sales of official merchandise made through these outlets.
Since becoming Scottish Rugby's official partner in 2013, Macron has won the support of fans through its bespoke match, training and leisure kit designs, which have resulted in record sales of Scotland and pro club shirts as well as merchandise over the past few seasons.
Macron CEO, Gianluca Pavanello said: "We are truly honoured to be renewing our partnership with Scottish Rugby which will see Macron represented again at a Rugby World Cup, this time in Japan in 2019. We have also been very proud to be associated with the on field success of Scotland's professional teams, most notably Glasgow Warriors winning the Guinness PRO12 and Edinburgh Rugby's runs in European competition – we look forward to being an integral part of their continued success.
"There is a fantastic working relationship between our organisations and the reaction of Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh fans to the bespoke collections we have produced, has been incredible and only inspires us to come up with new, innovative ideas to make future kits even more stylish and technically advanced.
The renewal will allow Scottish Rugby and Macron to continue to progress some very exciting projects in terms of the product development of its teamwear ranges as well as the official online and retail operations. This will allow Scottish Rugby fans to have access to top quality, technically advanced product ranges combined with market leading customer service."
Scottish Rugby's Chief Executive, Mark Dodson said: "It is fantastic news for Scottish Rugby that Macron, one of the fastest growing sports brands in Europe, has decided to extend its partnership. This record-breaking deal is the result of the outstanding relationship that has developed since Macron first started supplying kit to Edinburgh Rugby in 2010.
"The agreement now covers both the kit supply and retail/online services for Scottish Rugby and we look forward to working with Gianluca and his team in the coming seasons to develop and produce ranges of kit and merchandise that will continue to prove popular with players and fans alike."
SportsReg.co.uk, a new online registration tool for sports clubs to sign up people to tournaments, has launched.
The new digital service has been created for sports clubs of all sizes to help with generating additional revenue and simplifies the registration process for events and tournaments, both of which are important for grassroots clubs.
Participant, developers of SportsReg.co.uk, work with organisations and national governing bodies in a variety of sports, including FA Learning, UK Dodgeball Association and Hampshire Cricket Club. Having recently attended Rugby Expo at Twickenham in November to meet with community rugby clubs, Participant was able to discuss how SportsReg.co.uk can help them, and take the hassle out of administering tournaments and recruiting new members.
The key benefits of SportsReg.co.uk are that registrations can be taken at any time of the day and payments can be accepted online. This removes the need to handle cash. SportsReg.co.uk can also help you to promote events online and retain individual details for use in the future, such as who previously signed on to a tournament. The new service keeps the whole administration side of sport simple and affordable, with no upfront fees and you simply pay as you use it.
For grassroots rugby clubs, generating interest and signing people up to tournaments can be a challenge, with many still using paper based methods and relying on staff to be available to accept new registrations, more often than not during office hours. The new service removes these difficulties, ensuring that clubs can concentrate on their sport rather than worry about administration.