Why Construction Firms Are Investing In Premiership Rugby


Dozens of construction companies are investing in Premiership Rugby sponsorships. Let’s see why.

Logos of Durkan, Keltbray, and Travis Perkins

It was April 4th, 2022. I just witnessed London Irish (my team) get whipped by our West London neighbours, Harlequins at the Brentford Stadium.

After nearly a full season, it was only then I took notice of how many construction firms were advertised around the stadium.

It got me thinking…why are construction firms investing in this? 

Before I go any further, let’s see who’s sponsoring who:

The list goes on, but I think you get my point.

Rugby clubs are bad businesses. Why bother? 

Most clubs don’t make a profit. Period.

London Wasps and Worcester Warriors dissolved earlier this season. Wasps owed over £90m in debt when they folded, according to Bloomberg. A third of their debt came from supporters, who were due to have been paid by May 2022. Worcester folded owing £25m to debtors, including £6m to HMRC. 

So, why are construction firms still investing in the sport? 

A couple of reasons why:

  1. Community: Rugby has a tight group of supporters and companies that follow their team…tapping into tight communities can unlock many new avenues.
  2. Heritage: Wealthy construction owners want to see their clubs continue, regardless of a return on investment.
  3. Company Culture: Investing in sports can show commitment to lifestyle and mental wellness within the sponsoring organisation.

Now, let’s dive deeper and back up what I just said.

???? Frank Elkins, Chief Operating Officer at Travis Perkins (Northampton Saints) says:

“We’re excited to focus on driving community impact through a series of exciting programmes over the next four years, aligned with our broader values and objectives across the Travis Perkins Group.”

???? Danny Durkan, Executive Chairman at Durkan (London Irish) says:

“This is a really exciting partnership for Durkan. Not only does it tie our family heritage together with our extensive work across London and the South of England, but it also gives us a fantastic opportunity to promote active, healthy lifestyles both with our staff and within the communities in which we work.

???? Pat Ward, Former CEO of Breedon Group (Leicester Tigers) says:

“Breedon and Tigers have a great deal in common. We are both ambitious and competitive and believe that you can only achieve your goals by working together as a collaborative and mutually supportive team.

???? Tiernan Dixon, Founder of Superbeam (a creative agency specialising in construction) says:

“The clear commercial advantage is direct brand exposure to decision-makers in the industry, B2B buyers are humans too! The nature of sports events also brings consistent opportunities to entertain them. Associatively, the brands also align through the values of hard work, professionalism, and working as a team. Strong brand equity is a valuable asset for construction firms, and being able to harness the power of association with professional sports organisations is a sure-fire way to utilise this”.

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Other reasons why firms might be sponsoring

  1. New business.
  2. Account management.

New business

You are probably not going to land new clients from your brand being advertised on a jersey. I think most sponsors know that. But, as Tiernan Dixon mentioned above, association and exposure to B2B buyers can happen naturally through these types of events, especially if brands are consistent.

However, good sports clubs organise B2B events for their sponsors. For example, Leicester Tigers organise “Tigers Touch Rugby Tournament” at Welford Road every May. It’s a way for sponsors and partners to have a day out, get some exercise, and network with like-minded companies.

Me at the Tigers Touch Rugby Tournament earlier this year????

selfie with tag rugby team
Team Construction Sport

These events as well as matchday networking can result in a lot of good conversations. It’s worth the sponsorship alone if this is executed well by the club.

Account Management

Unlike football, spectators can drink while watching a live rugby game. Therefore, it has the makings of a great day out. 

For a lot of firms, this is the real reason for sponsoring. Building relationships, treating staff and having a good day out with an important client or vendor.

Wrapping Up

It’s hard to know whether this trend will continue. The sport is in the spotlight from a commercial aspect. But, when researching this article, I was shocked to see how many construction companies were quietly sponsoring Premiership Rugby teams (and I only touched the surface). The business side of the sport is weak, but the community is strong. And when a community is strong, there are opportunities for sponsors to gain some commercial value.

I would love your feedback on this article. Let me know if you are interested in another article like this. Better still, send me some ideas at andrew@wavenews.co.uk

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