Sponsor boost for Women’s Six Nations
For the first time the Women’s Six Nations will have an official commercial sponsor, as Guinness, which was named title sponsor of the men’s championship yesterday, will partner the female equivalent, though not as title sponsor.
Six Nations organisers were heavily criticised when Natwest was named as the title sponsor for the 2018 men’s tournament, but with no deal for the women.
The Six Nations board has defended the structuring of the sponsorship on the basis that it wants the women’s championship to have a unique identity. A Six Nations spokesperson told The Daily Telegraph: “We are actively working on securing a specific title sponsor for the Women’s Six Nations. We have made the decision to not link the Women’s Six Nations to the men as we want the women’s championship to have its own identity.
“We are invested in the development of women’s rugby and are excited about Guinness partnering with the Women’s Six Nations.”
Although Guinness’s investment is seen as a step forward for the women’s game, the Six Nations is playing catch-up compared with other tournaments and governing bodies. HSBC has been title sponsor of the men’s and women’s World Rugby Sevens Series since 2015, while the English women’s club competition, the Premier 15s, has had Tyrrells as title sponsor since last year. Quilter had the naming rights for England men’s and women’s November internationals, in a deal with the Rugby Football Union.
Guinness’s six-year sponsorship deal for the men’s tournament is worth £50 million. The sum is almost half what the Six Nations believed was possible when it sought a new sponsor in 2017 after bringing to an end a long-term relationship with RBS before eventually agreeing a one-year extension with Natwest last season.
The economic uncertainty has made the climate tougher for sports sponsorship and the unions are said to have been relieved that a longterm deal has been secured, even at a cut-price rate. It is understood this season’s championship will net the six unions close to £6million.
Guinness is an established sponsor in rugby, being the title sponsor of the Pro14, the official beer of Irish, English, Welsh and Scottish rugby, as well as partner with Irish provinces Leinster and Munster.