HSBC has announced it will not renew its sponsorship of Rugby Australia into 2020 as the official banking partner.
HSBC has stated it is currently in the process of looking to diversify its promotional spending outside rugby and build an image as a challenger in the local retail banking market, after partnering with the Qantas Wallabies for six years.
HSBC’s interim chief executive, Noel McNamara, said in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, that the bank will continue sponsoring rugby’s Sydney 7s and has also confirmed partnerships from 2020 with the Sydney Swans, Opera Australia and Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.
“We’ve had a great association with the Wallabies over the past six years,” McNamara said.
“And it’s just really that point in our cycle, if you will, where we’re looking to diversify or review, if you like, our branding assets, of which the Wallabies was a very important one,” he said.
When asked whether the decision is a result of the controversy with ex-Wallaby Israel Folau, who is currently in a legal battle with Rugby Australia over homophobic content published on his social media account earlier in the year, McNamara said it has nothing to do with the Folau issue and is just a natural business cycle decision.
“We can see how people could be trying to join some of that, but in our case, as I say six years, it’s been a really good sponsorship for us, it’s just re-balancing the branding that we actually have with partners and that’s all it is,” McNamara said.
“It’s certainly nothing at all to do with the Folau issue,” he said.
Following HSBC’s decision, Rugby Australia released a statement claiming the organising body has been in talks for a new banking partner and has received a “very positive” response so far.
“Rugby Australia has been aware of HSBC’s decision for some time and thanks HSBC for its support of the Qantas Wallabies for the past six years,” the statement read.
It has also been reported Qantas are in well-advanced discussions over the extension of their naming rights sponsorship with the Wallabies, which is set to expire at the end of 2019.