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Australian Rugby Union secures ongoing Qantas sponsorship: welcomes new IRB funding

Australian Rugby Union secures ongoing Qantas sponsorship: welcomes new IRB funding
May 23, 2012

Qantas has extended its long-established major partnership with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) by a further four years until 2015.

The airline began its association with the ARU in 1990, embellishing upon this by becoming the naming rights partner of the national team in 2004. The extension of Qantas' deal will see it continue alongside the ARU's other major commercial partners, which include kit manufacturer KooGa, Castrol, Lexus and BlackBerry.

Explaining the extension, ARU Managing Director and Chief Executive John O'Neill stated "Qantas has been a long-time supporter of rugby in Australia and the decision to extend that association and support is greatly appreciated and welcomed.

"The support provided by our partners, particularly Qantas, is vital in ensuring the ongoing success of the team on the field as well the strength of the game off it. Qantas is one of Australia's most iconic brands and to have such a respected and high-profile organisation as the naming rights partner and on the front of our iconic gold jersey is the perfect fit."

Group executive of Qantas Airlines Commercial, Rob Gurney, added "we look forward to supporting the team and carrying them to their competitions both in Australia and overseas."

O'Neill (pictured below) has also welcomed new financial arrangements announced last week by the International Rugby Board that will see funding increase to the southern hemisphere nations during World Cup years because of reduced Test match income and commercial arrangements relating to the Rugby World Cup.

The ARU had previously claimed last year's World Cup tournament in New Zealand cost them a $16 million revenue shortfall because of cuts to the domestic Test calendar.

O'Neill said at the time that financial situation was unsustainable for Australia and for its SANZAR partners New Zealand and South Africa.

The IRB Council has supported an increase in distributions from Rugby World Cup revenues which will provide ARU with $12 million for years between the 2011 and 2015 tournaments.

O'Neill also welcomed the decision by the IRB Council to review the commercial rules of the tournament stating "this has the potential to change the way ARU's commercial partners are associated with the Qantas Wallabies during the tournament.

"In the past they have had limited visibility during Rugby World Cup but if there is a move more towards the FIFA World Cup model where the commercial partners of national unions can have association at training, on training kit, and on media backdrops for instance, it will be a significant fillip for them.

"Overall, the financial package and the potential for some relaxation around the commercial rules is very satisfying. We have worked hard for these outcomes."

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) also welcomed the new financial arrangements with Chief Executive Steve Tew stating "we made our views very clear last year and have worked hard on the issue since so it's very satisfying that we have been heard.

"Rugby World Cup is a fantastic tournament which is critical for the game, as well as a thrilling experience for fans, but it does impose a significant financial cost on major nations. As we have said, the need to shorten our normal Test match window in a RWC year means we lose around $12 million as we play fewer matches at home. That means less money to sustain the game in this country at a time when we face significant financial challenges.

"The increased distribution of RWC revenue, coupled with the ability to claw back some of the lost revenue from Test matches, is a significant help.

"We have also voiced our concerns about the restrictive nature of RWC commercial rules which impacts on the ability of our sponsors to leverage off the All Blacks during the tournament. The Council has agreed to look into the matter and as a member of the sub-committee doing that I will be ensuring our voice is heard."





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