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Lions collaborate with South Africa to boost commercial reach

The British and Irish Lions have teamed up with South Africa Rugby (SAR) as part of a joint venture for the 2021 tour to go ahead.

The new model aims to boost the appeal of next years’ tour which sees the Lions return to South Africa for the first time in over ten years. The tour will see The Lions face the Springboks in a three-Test series, as the aim of the venture is to bring two of the biggest rugby brands, in the world, to work closer together.

Agreed as part of the venture, The Lions and SAR will combine their commercial offering, enabling broadcasters, partners and licensees the chance to fully leverage and activate around a new centralised programme.

In addition, a joined-up approached will be utilised for Customer Relationship Management (CRM), digital and social content with the aim to provide more opportunities for engagement from rugby fans worldwide as well as unlocking new commercial assets. These assets include a behind-the-scenes documentary which gives fans access into life inside both Lions and Springboks camps. The intention of the package is to secure a lucrative broadcasting deal to support the venture, as the video diary of the tour of South Africa in 1997 remains one of the most iconic sports documentaries of all time.

There will also be co-ordination of ticketing, travel and hospitality programmes to ensure fans have more access to Tour matches taking place in South Africa next year.

Ben Calveley, managing director of The British & Irish Lions has said, “We are pleased to announce the formation of our new joint venture with SA Rugby; the first time a Lions Tour has been approached in this way,”

“A Lions Tour is a global sporting event and its continuous commercial growth over the last decade has made it clear that a more collaborative, efficient and optimised structure was needed.

“Together with SA Rugby, this new approach will ensure that the 2021 Tour will reach new heights and avoid some of the inefficiencies we have experienced on previous tours. While competition on the field of play is great, off the field we should aspire to work collaboratively to create a whole greater than the sum of the parts.”

CEO of SAR, Jurie Roux added, “The creation of the joint venture is an important milestone on our journey towards next year’s series against the Lions.”

“Our partnership with the Lions is a good example of rugby’s northern and southern hemispheres working together to create greater benefits for both organisations.

“I am confident that this new more collaborative approach will help unlock new and increased revenues for South African rugby and the British & Irish lions, which gets reinvested in the game, and look forward to working in close partnership between now and the Tour next year.”

Fears of the tour being rescheduled last month surrounded The Lions and SAR to accommodate for the global shift in the rugby calendar. However, fans have been reassured of the tour going ahead with the joint venture and dates being announced.

Author: James Parker