In 2016, the U.S.A. Rugby association released figures on the number of players participating in the sport in the United States. The research conducted found that nearly 120,000 individuals were registered rugby players. According to CNN, the registered members of U.S.A. Rugby proved that the sport was the fastest growing in the country. It may have come as a shock to some as the traditional sports of baseball, basketball and football are still played by throughout the US. Soccer has also seen great growth, but it is rugby that is signing up players left and right. With its combination of football and soccer skills, rugby has become a sport that many Americans are clamoring to be a part of.
With the growth of rugby already, and its projected growth in the coming years, the value of sponsoring a rugby team’s jersey has increased. While companies and businesses putting their logo on a sports team’s jersey is a new newer concept in American sports, it is something that has occurred since the 1980s in European sports leagues. As a sports club or franchise, it is a way to increase revenue, while advertisers can position themselves next to a top team.
There are several reasons companies sponsor a rugby team’s jersey. Firstly, by sponsoring a rugby jersey, companies are able to set themselves apart from other advertisers. The advertising market is very congested with businesses trying to be seen by possible clients. A jersey sponsorship allows the sponsor to be visible. In the Internet age in which people are overwhelmed and desensitized to advertisements, most of the time simply ignore them, a jersey sponsorship allows the message to get through to the public.
“Jerseys are the best inventory location for sponsors. A team can be walking, talking, rugby billboards for your company,” Greg Tanner of Professional Rugby Agency said.
Secondly, a rugby match lasts 80 minutes, which means the thousands of people watching in the stadium and the audience at home viewing it on television are being exposed to the sponsor for nearly one and half hours. How often do brands get to advertise for that length of time?
Thirdly, the penetration a jersey sponsorship has is more than just a rugby match. Teams often feature on television highlight shows, in newspapers or magazines, and on social media. Due to the exposure, the sponsor is able to be seen by people around the world, and not just in a local area. A company can grow its brand awareness, loyalty, and customer recall tremendously through a rugby jersey sponsorship. If done correctly, a company can also reach its target market, and increase sales dramatically.
Finally, not only do rugby jersey sponsorships mean logos are placed on match day shirts, but it often means a sponsorship deal extends to other areas. Many teams will also have the sponsor’s logo or name on other equipment, including tracksuits and pre-game apparel. Sponsorship could also extend to areas of the stadium or onto items given away at matches. Once again, the number of individuals that can become exposed to the sponsor’s name and logo increases.
Companies can see the brand exposure first hand when sponsoring a rugby jersey. A rugby team’s match day attendance, television ratings, merchandise sale and on-field success all play a part in determining a brand’s exposure. Sponsors can quickly find out just how many people were exposure to the advertisement on a team’s jersey.
After the 2015 Rugby World Cup, MasterCard, one of the event’s main sponsors, stated rugby has an “incredible ability to engage and connect with fans across the globe”. Rugby has grown tremendously around the world in the last 25 years. In the US alone, it continues to grow bigger every year. By a company becoming a rugby jersey sponsor, it allows them to grow with the sport.