When it comes to sports, sponsorships are the backbone of many teams, and National League Rugby Union clubs are no exception.
Whether it’s team sponsorships or individual player support, sponsors play a huge role in keeping the sport alive. So why are they so valuable, and what do they look like in the English National League?
Why are sponsorships essential to National League rugby teams?
Everybody across the nation loves rugby, but a love of the game isn’t enough to keep things running smoothly. Unfortunately, money really does make the world go round, and funding is the number one reason why sponsorships are essential for rugby clubs in the English National Rugby League. You see, despite their incredible game, rugby doesn’t have quite the same following of fans as it does in other places in the world, like Australia and New Zealand, and with fewer fans comes fewer sources of revenue. This is especially true as you go down the ranks to lesser-known teams with sponsorships allowing teams to keep the lights running, venues equipped, and the game flowing.
What types of sponsorships are most prevalent in the National Rugby League?
The English National League partnerships can be split into three well-defined categories:
- National League sponsorships
Starting with a wider view, the first category of sponsors directly injects money into the league structure. Companies like Veo and Future Ticketing are partners of the National League, ensuring matches can happen with the correct personnel and equipment. Without it, the league couldn’t function. The National League acts as a funnel for rugby talent, without which many great teams and players would not get the chance to work their way into the big leagues.
As well as the National Leagues, sponsorships are also advertised widely for more significant rugby championship events like the Six Nations. The Six Nations Championship did not have a title sponsor until 1998, when rights were sold to the Lloyds TSB Group. Since then, the event has been titled the RBS 6 Nations, Natwest 6 Nations, and others over the years. For rugby fans who like to watch international games, sports betting websites like LeoVegas UK provide rugby union betting on events such as the Rugby World Cup and the Six Nations Championship.
- National League team sponsorships
Taking a step ‘closer to home’, these sponsorships help teams to train and compete. Running a team isn’t cheap, and there is much more to deal with than you’d think. Team kits, ground costs, managers, coaches, players, travel expenses,everything adds up. And when you’re a smaller team, you may not get spectators to your games to cover all these expenses, so sponsorships help teams stay afloat.
A lot of teams are sponsored by local investment or property companies, so numbers can vary from one or two sponsors to a significant portfolio of partnerships. Interestingly, a few National League teams do have some big sponsors, like the Sevenoaks team, which is sponsored by Savills, and Taunton, whose title sponsor is British Gas, among many other smaller sponsors.
- National League player sponsorships
Finally, players can have their own separate sponsors that follow them as they ascend through the ranks within Rugby Union. Teams encourage player sponsorships, even advertising which players have sponsors and which are available for sponsorship on their team websites. Some clubs, such as Cinderford, even offer perk packages for those who sponsor their players, including free match tickets and the opportunity to advertise their business pitch side.
What are the benefits of team sponsorships?
As previously mentioned, team sponsorships bring in much-needed money for teams in lower leagues. But the benefit is much more mutual. For the most part, team sponsors are local businesses looking to invest in the town club. In return, they get to advertise their businesses throughout the club facilities and at the stadium. At National League level, most spectators are local residents, so the opportunity to sponsor a rugby team and advertise in the stadium can drive more business to them.
But it works both ways. As part of their sponsorship, businesses may advertise many of the matches that will be taking place by their local team, thus driving more spectators to watch players (hopefully) win. It also means that teams can stay open to help serve as feeder teams for new talent, which is important in any sport, not just rugby.
What are the benefits of player sponsorships?
For most rugby players in the National League, rugby is their passion. It’s what they want to do full-time, but it can be difficult to receive a full-time salary playing rugby in the lower leagues, which means more players will have jobs on the side. To help players afford to spend enough time training while supporting their families and developing their skills for potential promotions within the sport, long-term sponsorships are a lifesaver. Plus, who wouldn’t love to say they were the first person to sponsor a player who now plays for the England national team?