Rugby sponsorship expected to grow as RBS deal ends

John Trainor, chief executive of ONSIDE. Photo: Naoise Culhane

John Trainor, chief executive of ONSIDE. Photo: Naoise Culhane

The 14-year sponsorship by RBS of the Six Nations came to an end this weekend, but investment by businesses in rugby is expected to remain buoyant.

Sponsorship spend in rugby has grown by an estimated 30pc in Europe over the past five years, according to sponsorship consultants Onside.

Research from the firm shows that rugby is seen to provide the strongest growth opportunities for sponsors in Ireland in 2017, with four in 10 industry practitioners polled by Onside viewing the sport as a strong platform for endorsements.

"A new era for rugby sponsorship is unfolding as the size of the fanbase continues to grow," said John Trainor, chief executive of Onside.

"The 2015 Rugby World Cup in England proved to be a major catalyst for the growth of the games in the UK and Ireland, setting new viewership and coverage records in 27 markets as up to 70pc cent of the viewing population in key markets tuned in."

"Since the last Rugby World Cup there has been a rise in interest in the sport in the UK and Ireland, with marked increases in those interested in rugby in comparison to 2015. Three-in-four Irish adults are now actively interested in Rugby in Ireland, up from one-in-two in 2013 and one-in-four in 2005."

Ireland's bid for the Rugby World Cup will also intensify interest. Trainor said: "Public support for rugby sponsors in Ireland is compelling for major brands like Vodafone, Guinness, Aer Lingus and Aldi, as seven-in-10 Irish adults think sponsorship by companies and brands of major sports such as rugby is a good thing."