O2 today announced it has extended its contract with the RFU to continue as the official sponsor of England Rugby for a further four years. The new deal will maintain O2’s position as one of the largest corporate sponsors of the sport within the UK and will run until 31st August 2012 seeing O2 partnering England beyond the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

England Team

The £4millon a season deal between O2 and the RFU will be visually reflected through O2’s extensive kit sponsorship of all England’s fifteen-a-side men’s teams including the Senior team, the Saxons, as well as the U20s, U18s and U16s. O2 will be looking to broaden its relationship with the RFU through potential sponsorship of the England women’s rugby team who are the current European Champions as well as being the RBS 6 Nations champions three years running.

It will also further establish O2 as the exclusive telecommunications provider to both the RFU and individual England squad members and provides an extensive package of rights including ticketing and hospitality at matches.

O2 Rugby Content

O2 has been involved in England Rugby since the game turned professional in 1995, during which England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and reached the final in 2007. The past seven years of sponsorship has seen O2 deliver unbeatable and exclusive rugby content direct to fan’s mobiles, including post-match highlights and ‘behind the scenes’ video streams.

The new deal will continue to give O2 player access rights on both a squad and individual player level, to enable the creation of unique mobile content for customers over the next four years.

Branding and O2 Experiences

The sponsorship will provide O2 with extended rights to build a greater brand presence at Twickenham both through stadium advertising and by facilitating better O2 customer experiences.

Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 UK: “We are delighted to announce our continued sponsorship of England Rugby for a further four year term. From a brand perspective the partnership with England Rugby provides us not only with great visibility but also allows us to create unrivalled mobile content and experiences for O2 customers. The re-signing of O2’s contract coincides with a new era for the National Team under England Team Manager Martin Johnson, which we are excited to be involved with. The past seven years of sponsorship has seen some great highs for both the team and the brand including winning the 2003 Rugby World Cup and developing successful community rugby initiatives in conjunction with the RFU.’’

Through the new contract O2 will continue to support the RFU’s community rugby initiatives such as the current O2 Scrum on the Beach series in support of the RFU’s Play On campaign. O2 is committed to making rugby accessible to players at every level of the game and the continued partnership with the RFU will see the establishment of further joint properties and partnerships.

The deal is strongly endorsed by England Team Manager Martin Johnson, who commented: “O2 have been a huge supporter of the England Rugby Team for the last twelve years and on behalf of the England squad I really appreciate that. They have backed the squad during my time as an England player and now as England Team Manager and it’s good to work with people who you know well and have a positive business relationship with.

Securing O2’s continued support is a great boost for England Rugby. O2 has been a loyal partner and supporter of both England and community rugby over the past seven years and I hope the next four years will only build on the current success of the partnership . Having access to the best communication tools and technology is now a fundamental part of any successful team set-up so we are delighted to continue working with the UK’s leading communications provider. “

RFU Business and Operations Director Paul Vaughan said “O2 have been an outstanding sponsor over a number of years and they are the epitome of a company that believes in brand building and the longevity of its key business relationships.

The work they have done with both the England squad and the grass roots of the sport to date has been terrific and it is fantastic news that they have committed to a further four years with England rugby.”

This long term partnership is one of the longest running sports sponsorships and has been extremely successful in raising O2’s brand exposure and awareness with this sponsorship creating 27% brand awareness. It also helps to build brand affinity through delivering unique VIP offers and experiences for O2 customers.

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