NZ Rugby World - - The Breakdown -

SCHOOL­BOY FIRST XV RUGBY PLAY­ERS across the coun­try will be bet­ter re­sourced and bet­ter pre­pared thanks to the con­tin­ued sup­port of grass roots rugby by Land Rover New Zealand.

The pre­mium Bri­tish car and SUV man­u­fac­turer is now en­ter­ing its fourth year of New Zealand First XV rugby spon­sor­ship and re­mains a staunch sup­porter of the com­pe­ti­tion in this mar­ket.

One of the sport’s big­gest back­ers glob­ally, Land Rover’s spon­sor­ship of First XV rugby helps fund SKY TV’s land­mark tele­vi­sion cov­er­age of school­boy rugby, pro­vid­ing elite young play­ers with na­tional ex­po­sure.

The com­pany spon­sors a num­ber of schools across the coun­try, di­rectly help­ing to fund the de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes which pro­duce to­mor­row’s su­per­stars.

“The money we re­ceive from Land Rover goes di­rectly into our high per­for­mance pro­grammes,” Otago Boys’ High School First XV coach Ryan Martin says.

The school uses the spon­sor­ship fund­ing to pur­chase video anal­y­sis pack­ages such as Hud­dle and Game­breaker, and pro­vide play­ers with rugby ‘tool kits’ – es­sen­tially gear that helps with in­jury preven­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

The im­pact of the fund­ing goes well be­yond the play­ers on the field, Martin says.

“We use stu­dents to op­er­ate our video anal­y­sis tools and in

“The money we re­ceive from Land Rover goes di­rectly into our high per­for­mance pro­grammes.” RYAN MARTIN

“Rugby is a tough, phys­i­cal game but it is also a sport which em­braces key val­ues such as dis­ci­pline, team­work and in­tegrity.” STEVE KENCHINGTON

the process they pick up skills they can make a ca­reer out of,” he says.

Two stu­dents had gone on to study sports anal­y­sis at Otago Poly­tech­nic af­ter work­ing with the First XV last sea­son.

“It’s re­ally hard to over­state how great it is to have the sup­port of a com­pany like Land Rover,” Martin says.

“Otago Boys’ High School has had 26 play­ers go on to rep­re­sent NZ Bar­bar­ians or NZ Schools teams since the pro­gramme be­gan three years ago. That’s the most of any school in New Zealand. If we didn’t have the pro­gramme, we wouldn’t have achieved that. The school has na­tional pro­file as a re­sult of this part­ner­ship.”

While the pro­gramme pro­vides young play­ers with a win­dow into the world of high per­for­mance sports, the school’s as­so­ci­a­tion with Land Rover isn’t lim­ited to the rugby pitch.

“We have a re­ally close re­la­tion­ship with the car dealer so the kids get to see their busi­ness model,” says Martin. “The boys see first-hand the skills re­quired to op­er­ate a suc­cess­ful busi­ness and learn the art of net­work­ing. That’s an in­cred­i­bly valu­able real-life les­son.”

Other schools di­rectly spon­sored by Land Rover in­clude Lind­is­farne Col­lege in Hast­ings, Napier Boys’ High and Christ’s Col­lege in Christchurch.

A long-stand­ing of­fi­cial part­ner of the Rugby World Cup and spon­sor of teams such as the Bri­tish & Ir­ish Lions, Spring­boks, Storm­ers, Brumbies, Bath and Wasps, Land Rover’s spon­sor­ship of the game at school­boy level is unique to New Zealand.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion with First XV Rugby was a nat­u­ral fit for Land Rover New Zealand,” Gen­eral Man­ager Land Rover New Zealand Steve Kenchington says.

“Our deal­er­ships have had wellestab­lished re­la­tion­ships with many schools through­out the coun­try for a num­ber of years as many cus­tomers were deeply in­volved with sec­ondary school sport – typ­i­cally rugby.

“Par­ents at th­ese schools are fre­quently haul­ing teams of muddy play­ers to and from pitches across the re­gions in our ve­hi­cles so a closer link to the schools just seemed to fit.

“At a na­tional level, we saw an im­me­di­ate op­por­tu­nity to in­crease the sup­port for schools by part­ner­ing with the likes of SKY TV and NZME to de­liver pro­gram­ming that sup­ports what is a truly elite na­tional school­boy com­pe­ti­tion,” says Kenchington.

Glob­ally, Land Rover’s spon­sor­ship of rugby runs into the mil­lions of dol­lars. Over the last six years, its sup­port of First XV rugby broad­cast­ing in New Zealand has con­trib­uted hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to the game.

This year the com­pany has in­creased its con­tri­bu­tion by 20 per cent – and the in­vest­ment is well worth it, Kenchington says.

“Be­ing part of a com­mu­nity that cus­tomers are also deeply in­volved in has ob­vi­ous com­mer­cial ben­e­fits to Land Rover, but there is also great fit with what we do as a brand,” Kenchington says.

“Rugby is a tough, phys­i­cal game but it is also a sport which em­braces key val­ues such as dis­ci­pline, team­work and in­tegrity. That fits re­ally well with our cor­po­rate ethos.

“Land Rover has al­ways been about go­ing above and be­yond in all as­pect of our busi­ness, and NZ’s rugby cul­ture ex­em­pli­fies this in so many ways.”

New Zealand’s in­cred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive and in­creas­ingly pro­fes­sional na­tional First XV com­pe­ti­tion was viewed by Land Rover as a gen­uinely elite com­pe­ti­tion, Kenchington says.

“There’s no doubt school­boy First XV rugby has be­come one of the premier sports com­pe­ti­tions in the coun­try. The skill level on dis­play is in­cred­i­ble. It’s not un­com­mon for play­ers to tran­si­tion from First XV to the All Blacks very swiftly in­deed.

“First XV rugby truly is the back­bone of the sport in this coun­try. Help­ing to raise the pro­files of the teams and play­ers at this level is some­thing that Land Rover New Zealand is in­cred­i­bly proud of,” he says.

Richie McCaw is one of Otago Boys’ High School’s most fa­mous for­mer pupils and de­spite play­ing 148 tests, the for­mer All Blacks cap­tain says school­boy rugby pro­vided many of his best mem­o­ries.

Land Rover know that their in­vest­ment in First XV rugby in New Zealand helps build great play­ers [such as Brad Thorn pic­ture here] who go on to be­come All Blacks and play around the world in the big­gest venues.

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