The multinational retailer has no traditional links with sport anywhere else and their signing up to the Munster deal is a tribute to the work of the of the Commercial Board and to the appeal of Munster as a brand. Greencore came via the same route into their role as Academy partners.
The Marks & Spencer Munster Community Rugby programme will support a team of eight full-time Community Rugby Officers and 10 part-time Club Community Rugby Officers that provide services to clubs, schools and communities at every level in the province. They work with over 15,000 children who take part in rugby activities each season.
Marks & Spencer will also sponsor the half time mini rugby matches at Munster’s home games, and support over 100 blitzes which are held for clubs and schools each season.
The brand has four of its existing seventeen Irish stores in Munster. Clonal, Patrick Street and Douglas in Cork and Killarney will be joined in 2016 by a new superstore in Limerick providing 250 new jobs for the city.
“We are delighted to welcome a brand as prestigious as Marks & Spencer to Munster Rugby,” said Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald.
“Such a partnership speaks volumes about how the organisation is performing on and off the pitch and it allows us to further develop our community rugby programme which is vital to our growth and success.
“This initiative has come about through the ongoing vital work of our Commercial Board chaired by Niall FitzGerald, and is one of a growing number of inputs they have had in ensuring that Munster Rugby are at the forefront of European Rugby”.
“Marks & Spencer has a long and proud history of playing an active role in the Irish communities we’ve served over the last 35 years,” added Nathan Ansell, Head of Brand and Marketing at the retailer.
“We are tremendously excited about this partnership with Munster as it gives us a great opportunity to make a positive difference to the lives of thousands of young people and help develop the next generation of rugby talent in Ireland”.
Bank of Ireland remain Munster Rugby’s principal commercial partner but they also have an enviable list of partners below that including Greencore, Lifestyle Sports, Guinness, the Irish Independent and Deep Riverrock.
Image credit: Munster Rugby