Serge Betsen was never the kind of rugby player you would want to see when you looked up from a ruck. 200 stitches in his head over the course of a Grand Slam career with France and a club career that spanned some of the Irish province’s greatest moments are testament to his ferocity on the pitch.
He is in Dublin this weekend to help promote the Heineken Rugby Club, and he’s a much nicer lad off the pitch than memory serves of what he was like on it.
He’s Heineken’s lastest ambassador for the club and we caught up with Sponsorship Manager Jim Geraghty in Dublin to learn why.
“What we try to do is give an opportunity for fans to celebrate the game for what it is.”
“Serge was a brute on the pitch but what he has done in terms of giving back in France and in his native Cameroon tells a different story altogether.”
“We want to celebrate the values and the respect that exist before and after the 80 minutes on the pitch, and Serge typifies the mix of aggression and camaraderie that was at the heart of those glory days for Munster and Leinster in the Heineken Cup.”
Betsen appeared on TV3 last night alongside Mario Rosenstock and Donncha O’Callaghan in the Clubhouse, a show sponsored by Heieneken and part of the Club theme behind their current rugby promotions.
He will be in the Mansion House tonight for a special Off The Ball Roadshow alongside Martin Williams, Brian O’Driscoll and Keith Wood.
“Serge said that Keith was one of the toughest players he had played against so we should get some great stories out of that,” added Geraghty.
“We are bringing 600 Heineken Rugby Club Members to the show and that’s what the Club is all about, bringing fans into a room and getting an inside track with fellow fans and your heroes in the game.”
On a NatWest 6 Nations weekend there is always a bit of push and shove between brands looking to get their name and brand association out front.
“What we have seen over the last few years is an influx of brands, not just alcohol, into the sport. All our research shows that it has a real hold over the Irish public so it’s natural that brands will want to capitalise on that.”
“Guinness have done a great job but we believe that through our heritage in the sport, and the continued recognition of our involvement from the Heineke Cup to the Champions’ Cup, give us the right to be part of it through the year.”
“Our focus is on the social side, more so than what happens on the pitch and this weekend is one of the ways in which we can engage with credibility.”
With a massive weekend of Champions’ Cup action coming up at the end of next month, Heineken will be a busy brand and we will have a longer interview with Jim Geraghty as part of our ‘Making Sponsorship Work Series in the coming weeks.
Image Credit: Sam Barnes, Sportsfile