LAND ROVER BACKING THE NEXT GENERATION OF RUGBY STARS
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.