The CSM Sports & Entertainment division of marketing services group Chime Communications has entered into a partnership with USA Rugby as part of an effort to accelerate the growth of rugby union in the country.
Under the agreement, CSM will become a minority shareholder in and serve as the exclusive commercial sales agent for Rugby International Marketing (RIM), the commercial entity of USA Rugby.
CSM will also support the national governing body’s new business model, which sets RIM aside as a separate ‘for-profit’ commercial subsidiary, in order to help drive the commercialisation and development of rugby in the US by investing revenue back into the sport.
In addition, as commercial sales agent, CSM will lend its support to RIM’s New York-based sales team by securing more sponsors and marketing partners for USA Rugby.
Sophie Goldschmidt, group managing director of CSM, said: “The success of USA Rugby in recent years is evidence of the sport's evolution in this important market. By investing in and becoming the exclusive commercial agent of RIM, we believe we can help further accelerate the growth of rugby in the US.”
RIM chairman Chad Keck added: “We are excited to welcome CSM as a partner and investor in RIM. Their relationships and expertise in the world of rugby will be invaluable as we look to grow our sponsorship portfolio and raise the visibility of the sport in the United States.”
Confirmation of the partnership comes after The Guardian newspaper last week reported that officials from the Pro12 competition are planning further talks with counterparts in both the US and Canada over the possibility of adding two teams from the countries to the league.
The Pro12 is made up of Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams and is operated by the countries’ respective governing bodies. Talk of introducing North American teams has been ongoing as the Pro12 seeks to reduce the financial gap to England’s Premiership and France’s Top 14.
In addition, earlier this month, sports and entertainment companies Grand Prix Entertainment and W Partners agreed a deal to launch a new US-based rugby sevens national team tournament next year.
The US men’s and women’s sevens national teams have experienced success in recent years, with both sides having qualified for the tournaments at this year’s summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The women’s team finished fifth in their competition.
The Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 event will take place in the San Francisco Bay area after World Rugby’s Council decided to award the competition to USA Rugby in May 2015.