• Transform magazine
  • January 18, 2020

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Rugby rebrands help sport reach new audiences

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In 2014, the IRB – the world’s governing body for rugby – renamed to World Rugby and unveiled a stylish rebrand that combined a ‘W’ with a rugby ball shape. Four years later, changes to rugby's branding on the regional and global levels are promoting the sport to new audiences.

World Rugby has announced a new brand for the Rugby World Cup 2023, to be held in France. The logo blends World Rugby’s icon with a Möbius strip-like ribbon to represent a beating heart. The logo was designed to encourage connections between fans and among the rugby community. With the tough strapline, ‘We are rugby,’ the new brand is inclusive, confident and capable of putting rugby at the centre of the global sporting conversation.

Claude Atcher, CEO of the Rugby World Cup France 2023, says, “Rugby is unique in many respects, and the World Cup is the best demonstration of this fact. ‘The only team combat sport’ is also ‘the only sport where you really get to encounter one another, whereas in other sports you merely cross people’s paths.’ A paradox? No, it’s a difference, a unique blend of intensity and meaning that rugby needs to maintain.”

The 2023 event will celebrate the 200th birthday for the sport itself, making this world cup a prominent one.

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Elsewhere in the rugby world, brand changes are afoot as well. World Series Rugby – a rugby sevens tournament prominent across the Asia-Pacific region – has rebranded to avoid confusion with its governing body.

The tournament has grown in popularity across the region and currently sees six Asia-Pacific teams taking part. The newest joiners – Malaysia and Singapore – increase the organisation’s focus on key Asian markets. Now known as Global Rapid Rugby, the tournament is promoting the speed, action and excitement of rugby sevens to the Asian audience.

The GRR’s driving force, and primary financial supporter, Andrew Forrest, says, “Rapid Rugby is the perfect name that speaks directly to what we will deliver in 2019 and beyond – a dynamic sports and entertainment concept. We are working hard on taking the success of the 2018 series in Perth and super-charging it for the Asia-Pacific region. I am confident it’s going to be even more innovative and exciting than what people experienced this year.”

The new visual identity uses a rugby ball shape, but crafts a new, ownable icon and a steely colour palette of navy and silver.

With the focus on brand, name differentiation and new communications, the global rugby union and rugby sevens organisations are poised to increase awareness of and support for the sport of rugby to non-traditional audiences.

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