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SBD Global/August 29, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Int'l Rugby Board To Formally Rebrand, Usher In New Era As World Rugby In November

The Int'l Rugby Board will undergo a "second name change in 16 years when it becomes formally known as World Rugby in November as part of a rebranding programme," according to Greg Stutchbury of REUTERS. The new brand, "including a revised logo, will be launched at the IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition in London" on Nov. 17-18, with the new name taking effect from Nov. 19. Growth in player numbers and "expansion into new markets as well as the sport's reintroduction to the Olympic Games" in '16 had prompted the "decision to rebrand itself." IRB Chair Bernard Lapasset said, "We are committed to furthering that growth beyond our traditional family and fan base with a public that expects to be entertained, informed and interacted with. This move is more than just a name change, it is a mission statement" (REUTERS, 8/28). In London, Owen Slot wrote the IRB is "now 128 years old." Yet on Nov. 19, it will go "willingly to its deathbed and hope, in the process, to lose the image of a group of men in suits sitting round boardroom tables, making decisions and fiddling with the laws of the game." While the change in name could "simply be dismissed as an exercise in marketing speak and semantic tinkering, there is no doubt that the IRB has come to embody the fustier old-school face of rugby." The change of name is intended to "reflect the body's wish to be less a group of administrators governing body and more a body that promotes the game around the world." IRB CEO Brett Gosper said, "The name IRB has been a bit of a handicap in our development process. The change is almost so obvious, it’s extraordinary it has not happened before" (LONDON TIMES, 8/28). Gosper added, "World Rugby collectively has the ingredients and tools to do just that. Rugby's global appeal is founded and positioned on its unique character-building values and inclusive ethos and we want everyone to feel connected with the sport and Rugby's ongoing success story" (SKY SPORTS, 8/28).
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