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AIG opts out of All Blacks sponsorship renewal

US insurance group AIG has decided against renewing its sponsorship of New Zealand Rugby when the current deal ends in 2021.

The current sponsorship agreement involves AIG sponsoring New Zealand’s senior men’s national team – the All Blacks – as well as the All Blacks Sevens, the Maori All Blacks, the Black Ferns, the New Zealand Black Ferns Sevens, and New Zealand’s U-20 teams.

AIG has sponsored NZR’s national teams since 2012, with the initial five-year deal worth a reported $80m (€71.8m), and a six-year renewal in 2016 worth $10m to $20m annually, according to local media reports.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said in a statement: “We have enjoyed a hugely successful and mutually beneficial commercial partnership that has helped both AIG and NZR to strengthen our respective brands on the world stage.

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“Through this partnership, NZR and the six national teams sponsored by AIG have been able to grow rugby’s presence in new and growing markets, with opportunities to play in new territories and introduce our teams to new fans all over the world,” Robinson said.

“Lengthy commercial partnerships such as this are unusual, and the lead-in time provided means NZR is very well placed to attract new sponsors.

“We will continue to work with AIG through another exciting period for our teams – with both the men’s and women’s sevens teams seeking gold at the Tokyo Olympics later in 2020, and the Black Ferns heading into the Rugby World Cup 2021 as defending champions and the tournament’s host nation.”

NZR’s biggest revenue stream is from media rights agreements, its biggest deal being that with domestic pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand. This deal was renewed last October for the 2021 to 2025 period.

According to Reuters, NZR reported a NZ$1.9m loss in 2018. Chairman Brent Impey told its annual general meeting in April that the organisation was operating in a “challenging” financial environment.

“Although we are pleased with our latest financial result, these are still challenging times for rugby as we look further ahead,” Impey said. “The pressure to retain our talent and support the growth in our community game puts pressure on our long-term financial projections.”