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NRL Head Of Partnerships Reveals 2021 Commercial Strategy

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peaking to Ministry of Sport, NRL head of partnerships, Jaymes Boland-Rudder, revealed the NRL’s commercial strategy for 2021, discussing the role of the NRLW and the increasing importance of digital technology.

In part one of the two-part interview with Boland-Rudder, he reviewed the success the NRL had through 2020 despite the challenges of COVID-19.

In this part two of the series, Boland-Rudder said the NRL has an important role to play in the Australian community through 2021.

“For 2021, we’ve already announced our draw and we’ve announced very much, a return to normal, and we’re confident we will be able to deliver that,” Boland-Rudder told Ministry of Sport.

“I think that’s really important for our commercial partners and the community more broadly.

“People are increasing in confidence and we’re thinking about what is the role we can play as a sport.

“In that way, we’re able to then help our partners not only engage with the fans, but in terms of whether it be a retail partner or insurance partner, ensure that the economy will bounce back and is returning, and people can start spending again.

“I think we have a really important role there to play.

“The other thing we will continue to focus on with our partners is capitalising on the gains we made in 2020 in terms of our digital audience and digital platforms, and that direct interaction with our fans and our partners and enabling that direct conversation.

“I think there will be this continued focus on direct engagement via digital platforms and the utilisation through digital platforms.

“It was accelerated through 2020 and has given us some great ideas for what we can do in 2021, especially when you can bring together the strong digital platforms and the innovation and activations that will come back as we return to crowds and more traditional delivery formats.

“Bringing the digital elements together with those more traditional formats, will enable us to not only broaden our reach, but the depths of relationships that we can offer our partners with our fans,” he said.

When asked about the increasing number of corporate partnerships covering both the NRL and NRLW, Boland-Rudder said the NRL was focused on supporting the women’s competition through 2020 and beyond.

“For us, it’s quite a compelling proposition for our partners, we’ve seen Telstra acquire the naming rights for the NRLW premiership,” Boland-Rudder said.

“The ability for our partners to engage across both the men’s and women’s competitions means they’re maximising their reach and maximising their audience, because they are slightly different audiences that are watching and engaging with each competition, but it’s also a reflection of the values of the NRL.

“One of the things our commission (Australian Rugby League Commission) said to us at the start of the year was ‘it’s great that we’re focused on bringing the men’s competition back by May 28, but let’s not lose sight of the fact we also need to deliver a women’s competition in full’.

“We were the first sport to deliver a full women’s competition in the country this year, and that’s something we’re really proud of,” he said.

Looking towards 2021, as the sport, and Australia as a whole, looks to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, Boland-Rudder said the NRLW will play a key role commercially in supporting itself and the men’s competition.

“Next year, Ampol comes on board as the naming rights partner for our women’s State of Origin, and we’re really looking forward to building on the momentum of the acquisition of the Telstra naming rights and some of the brilliant content that’s been produced like HersDay,” Boland-Rudder told Ministry of Sport.

“We’re also going to broaden our relationship with Cadbury, who have taken an interest in the women’s game, and Rexona as well.

“We’re in some quite fruitful discussions with some other major brand partners who recognise our women’s competition is a very compelling investment proposition.

“This year, the NRLW Grand Final was the number one rated women’s sport program on television, and that comes off last year, our women’s State of Origin being rated the number one women’s sport broadcast product.

“In that respect, there’s increasing awareness that it’s a very good quality competition and that it’s going to be a growing competition moving forward and there’s some great opportunities for some major brands who may not have traditionally partnered with the NRL, to find a way into the rugby league family,” he said.

To read part-one of the two-part interview with NRL head of partnerships, Jaymes Boland-Rudder, click here.