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Volume 23 No. 28
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Rugby events sign Penn Mutual to deals

The Collegiate Rugby Championship airs on NBC and NBCSN.
For the first time in its 167-year history, Penn Mutual is stepping into the sports sponsorship space.

The Philadelphia-based insurance company bought the presenting sponsorship for two rugby events: the Collegiate Rugby Championship and Varsity Cup Championship.

The deal runs for three years, through 2017, and is worth mid-seven figures, sources said.

Penn Mutual said the rugby sponsorship is not a sign that it will make more inroads into the sports market.

“This will not be part of a larger sports play,” said Eileen McDonnell, chairman, president and CEO of Penn Mutual. “We want to grow our business with millennials, and this allows us to get on campuses with these big college brands.”

One of the biggest attractions to the deal is NBC. The broadcast network has committed to carry at least four hours of the Collegiate Rugby Championship every June from Philadelphia’s PPL Park. NBC Sports Network carries an additional two hours. It’s a sevens tournament, which means that each team has seven players on the field.

The presenting sponsorship deal includes up to 50 30- and 60-second spots over the course of the two events, plus other NBC Sports events like the English Premier League. The sponsorship also includes the Varsity Cup Championship, a 15-a-side rugby tournament that is held in Salt Lake City.

Jonathan First, president of United World Sports, sold the sponsorship. United World Sports is the owner and operator of these events. NBC Sports Group is a co-investor in these events, too. In fact, First credits NBC’s Jon Miller for helping to create the Collegiate Rugby Championship as a way to get some of the big college brands on NBC’s air.