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RFU’s Halsey joins Lions as commercial director

Captain Sam Warburton and Maro Itoje of the Lions acknowledge the support of the fans during the 2017 tour of New Zealand (by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The British & Irish Lions has appointed the Rugby Football Union’s Tom Halsey as commercial director, as preparations step up for the 2021 tour to South Africa.

Reporting to managing director Ben Calveley, Halsey joins the Lions having served as the RFU’s head of business development since November 2012. In this role, he led the organisation’s sponsorship acquisition process, negotiating commercial agreements with the likes of British Airways, O2, Canterbury and Guinness.

In that time, he was also responsible for the RFU’s retail and licensing, as well as devising a media rights strategy. Prior to working at the RFU, Halsey had served as head of commercial partnerships at UK Sport (from 2009 to 2012) and head of sponsorship for Wembley Stadium (from 2007 to 2009). He was also senior sponsorship manager at the English Football Association, having joined the domestic governing body in 2002.

The Lions have also appointed Alan Phillips as operations director and today’s (Friday’s) news continues a busy month for the organisation. The CSM Sport & Entertainment agency has been appointed by both SA Rugby and the Lions as their official sponsorship agency to exclusively manage all sponsorship rights for the 2021 Tour.

The appointment of an exclusive sales agency for both rights-holders is a new model for Lions Tours. CSM sold sponsorship rights on behalf of New Zealand Rugby and the Lions for the 2017 Lions Tour of New Zealand, but on a non-exclusive basis. CSM will seek brands for the main shirt sponsorships of the Springboks, the newly-crowned World Champions, and the Lions.

Specialist rugby brand Canterbury also renewed its official apparel partner deal with the Lions for the South Africa tour. Canterbury will supply all of the team’s on-field kit and training wear for the tour, as it did for the 2017 series against New Zealand.