Spon­sor boost for Women’s Six Nations

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Kate Rowan and Gavin Mairs

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.

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