World Rugby has announced the appointment of IMG to manage the global licensing and merchandising rights for its major properties until the end of 2023.
The long-term global strategic partnership incorporates the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups, the annual World Rugby U20 Championship and the World Rugby Hall of Fame, which launched as a physical destination in Rugby, England, last year.
The deal also reflects a sport that is thriving globally following record-breaking men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups and rugby sevens’ Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016.
There are now more than 300 million rugby fans* worldwide and the deal will enable World Rugby to strengthen its bond with fans new and existing through an innovative, relevant and global licencing programme.
World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “The global licensing programme plays an important role within our mission to grow the global rugby family by strengthening the connection between our major properties and audiences.
“With Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, this global deal will IMG will enable us to maximise the Asia opportunity through an exciting and attractive range of products for audiences of all ages, from official apparel and merchandise to electronic games.”
Under the deal, IMG will target licensees to design, produce and distribute exciting and innovative ranges of apparel, fan, lifestyle and leisure products for each tournament. In addition, IMG will also develop bespoke lines for the World Rugby Hall of Fame and e-gaming.
IMG President worldwide licensing division Bruno Maglione said: “We are honoured to be partnering with World Rugby. Our objective is to create a long-term relationship between its major properties and fans around the world.
“With Rugby World Cup as a pinnacle, our exciting Rugby World Cup 2019 licensing programme will be anchored in both Europe and Japan and feature a great range of products for spectators and fans of all ages.”
The deal represents a further boost for a strong Rugby World Cup 2019 commercial programme that has seen the inventory of worldwide partners secured in record time with record value. 

* Nielsen research