Rugby League World Cup Sponsorship Report

Rugby League World Cup Sponsorship Report

The Rugby League World Cup was a triumph on and off the pitch. It’s hard to recall a similar sporting event that has delivered such engagement of new audiences in such an inclusive and socially responsible manner. This article looks at how the Rugby League World Cup Sponsors activated their partnerships and contributed to this success.


If you were one of the 20 million+ fans watching the World Cup, you would have done well to miss the Cazoo logo. The car retailer was the Headline Sponsor of all three tournaments, with extensive logo placement throughout. This included around the pitch, up the posts and on the pitch as well as the front of the referee’s shirt, and the back of the dugouts.

Cazoo’s sponsorship team also created several highly successful fan engagement activations, including rare opportunities to meet and train with the teams.

However, the brand’s activation highlight involved tapping into that fan favourite pre-match ritual, predicting the score. Using the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) Predictor App, the fan who guessed the most correct result won a car, with runners-up winning signed merchandise. This competition generated increased awareness for Cazoo around the sponsors’ central product whilst providing a fun new addition to the event for fans. We call that a win-win on the sponsorship front.

The Sponsor Score: 8/10


Another brand to partner with the tournament due to its inclusive nature was Deloitte. The professional services firm delivered a series of mental fitness workshops with Movember and Rugby League Cares at their partner schools to over 150 students as part of their 5 Million Futures campaign.

However, Deloitte’s most significant contribution to the RLWC occurred mainly behind the scenes. The organisation was critical in driving participation across the board through two successful activation campaigns.

The first was the Power Up campaign, a rallying cry for an army of volunteers to assist with running and organising the event. The result was a record number of applications, over 5,000 in total.

The second campaign, Squads Assemble, was built around the inclusivity of RLWC. The aim was to encourage new and existing fans to form squads with their friends, families, teammates, and schoolmates and get involved. The campaign created excitement and anticipation for the event resulting in increased ticket sales, massive social media buzz and record viewing figures.

The Sponsor Score: 8/10


Kappa perhaps encapsulated the inclusive nature of the tournament best as part of its ‘Winning Starts Within’ campaign.

The Italian sportswear brand teamed up with four RLWC ambassadors to utilise the unique Men’s, Women’s, and Wheelchair formula. The company created a short video featuring the ambassadors to raise issues relating to mental health, challenging stereotypes and overcoming adversity.


In addition to being the tournament’s official apparel partner, the company also took advantage of various pitch-side branding opportunities.

The Sponsor Score: 7/10


Vodafone made a subtle connection to the brand’s services by celebrating the network of unsung heroes at rugby clubs working to get stuff done behind the scenes. As part of its ongoing support for sport in the UK, Vodafone asked fans to nominate their clubs’ unsung heroes. The winners received tickets to the final, VIP meet the players experiences and equipment for their clubs. Vodafone also benefited from significant awareness using pitch-side advertising.

The Sponsor Score: 7/10

Selco Builders Warehouse

Selco is an experienced partner of rugby league, having sponsored various clubs, including London Broncos, Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves. In addition to the various pitch-side branding opportunities, the builders merchant created a fun and simple RLWC mobile game to promote their partnership. They claim it to be highly addictive, and this author can vouch for that. Unfortunately, despite achieving a respectable high score of 1,879, I was not selected as one of the lucky Selco winners to receive World Cup Final tickets.

The Sponsor Score: 7/10

The National Lottery

In addition to extensive perimeter advertising, the National Lottery ran a competition whereby any customer who purchased a lottery ticket could apply for free RLWC tickets.

The company also sponsored the Trophies Tour, which saw the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair trophies brought to stadiums across the country to increase fan engagement.

As a long-term rugby league supporter, the National Lottery has committed to investing a further £9.3 million in the sport. Such a significant commitment will significantly impact the sport for many years. The only disappointment was that a sponsor of this size could not find a more engaging and original campaign to highlight their commitment.

The Sponsor Score: 7/10

Manchester Metropolitan University

80% of the RLWC took place in the North of England, with all three finals hosted in Manchester. As University partner, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) ran tournament-related research projects into the legacy of the tournament on rugby league in the UK.

MMU also offered exclusive opportunities for its students by providing internships and tournament volunteering opportunities. Student competitions also offered the chance to train with the Australian team and win tickets to the finals.

Although students are not employees, MMU’s partnership is a fantastic example of how sponsorship can educate, inspire and engage internal audiences. For more tips on how to use your sponsorship to engage internal audiences see our article here.

The Sponsor Score: 7/10


One of the promises of the RLWC was to give back to rugby league sports clubs and community organisations across the country. Assura’s tournament sponsorship played a vital role in helping the RLWC keep that promise.

The British property development partner to the health sector made a generous £100,000 fund available. These grants targeted health and wellbeing initiatives helping causes such as coping with loneliness, learning opportunities for disadvantaged young people, support for young adults to get ready for work, veteran wellbeing projects and summer activity camps for children, to name a few.

This partnership is an excellent example of how sponsors can use an event such as the RLWC as a vehicle to provide a positive contribution. The activity raised awareness of health and wellbeing issues and how the sponsoring organisations, in this case, Assura, work to address those issues.

Sponsor Score: 7/10

Eversheds Sutherland

Eversheds Sutherland was the first of the Rugby League World Cup sponsors, agreeing to a deal six years before the tournament started.

A tournament of this size creates a multitude of logistical and contractual challenges. The firm provided legal counsel throughout the development of the event as new partners were brought on board and agreements were made with host cities.

The firm appeared to have successfully activated the rights internally and amongst the client base. Regular social media and email communications created a steady drumbeat of content and built excitement for the tournament’s kick-off.

However, a central activation campaign needed to be included to reach and engage new audiences on a grander scale.

The Sponsor Score: 6/10

Kuehne+Nagel Group

Kuehne+Nagel provided logistics service to the RLWC. In 2021 the Swiss transport company announced they planned to plant 78,00 trees to offset the harmful impact of carbon emissions on the environment. The company allocated one of these trees for every employee’s birthday and extended this through their partnership with the RLWC. Using the campaign name ‘Tree for a Try,’ one of these 78,000 trees was allocated for each try scored during the tournament to highlight K+N’s pledge further.

The Sponsor Score: 5/10


CoinEx received prominent branding across perimeter boards in exchange for their sponsorship investment throughout the tournament.

The company also hosted a small meet-up in Manchester for 50 existing CoinEx customers and other fans interested in investing in digital currencies.

The purpose of the partnership appeared to be brand awareness, with little investment allocated towards engaging rugby league fans in any meaningful way.

The Sponsor Score: 4/10

New Era

New Era manufactured a range of hats in the style of each of the RLWC’s competing nations. The hats were available as part of the tournament’s official merchandise.

The Sponsor Score: 4/10

NuArca Labs

Similarly, NuArca Labs attempted to leverage the partnership simply by selling more of its core product. The NFT platform creation and management company released a series of digital cards for fans to collect and celebrate the tournament.

The Sponsor Score: 4/10



Full List of Rugby League World Cup Sponsors


When investing in sponsorship, it is important to Measure sponsorship impact on brand and business value. You may also read our article on How to engage fans, not distract them.