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United World Sports announced the title sponsorship of the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship and Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Monday. In partnering with UWS and NBC, vanguards in the fight to take rugby to mainstream America, the Philadelphia-area based life insurance company has thrown its weight behind the fastest growing sport in the United States.
The deal is the first of its kind – a private American rugby company inking a major title sponsor of this magnitude – and it indicates rugby’s growth has finally reached a tipping point where corporate America can now capitalize on the valuable demographics of rugby fans and participants.
“We really feel that rugby and Penn Mutual are aligned in several ways. Rugby has been around a while, so has Penn Mutual, but both rugby and Penn Mutual are more cutting edge now,” Penn Mutual CEO Eileen McDonnell told Rugby Today.
“Rugby is the number one growing sport in America. We’re one of the fastest growing life insurance companies in America. We’ve doubled our market share in the last five years, so there are a lot of parallels there. We think it’s a great opportunity to tell our story about what Penn Mutual stands for to millions of consumers, financial professionals and collegiate athletes.”
Never before has a collegiate rugby competition, championship or event enjoyed the kind of corporate support the Varsity Cup and CRC will from Penn Mutual. This is exactly the level of corporate support required for rugby to continue its ascendence into a major sport in America.
“The Varsity Cup National Championship coaches welcome Penn Mutual on board,” said BYU coach David Smyth. “We have gathered together 31 of the 34 past national champions, and partnering our universities with a best-in-class company like Penn Mutual is the progression we envisioned in creating our championship.”
The CRC has called Philadelphia home the last four years, and the partnership with Penn Mutual means it will likely stay in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future. Each of the first two Varsity Cup National Championship games have been played in the Salt Lake City area, where Penn Mutual has a large base.
“We really want to try to make this an iconic Philadelphia-based sports event, just like some of the other things around like the Blue Cross Broad Street Run, the Parx Casino Philly Bicycling Classic, so we think it’s a good opportunity for us in our region, as well as nationally,” said McDonnell of the CRC.
“We actually have a very large presence in Salt Lake City, too. We have a large agency out there, so that’s exciting for them as well.”
There’s a buzz of excitement on both sides of the deal, as the sponsorship will include several new wrinkles in both competitions, including a $25,000 prize for the winner of the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship.
“Notre Dame Rugby is excited that Penn Mutual is getting behind the student athletes in our sport,” said Fighting Irish coach Sean O’Leary. “Notre Dame is looking forward to working with them via the two championships and welcoming them on our campus as we develop leaders together.”