For many years Land Rover have enjoyed a global association with rugby, both at a grassroots level and at the highest international level with sponsorship of the British Irish Lions and the Rugby World Cup.
So when the time came for the local Land Rover New Zealand team to bring this association to a national level, it was much about finding a competition that represented the Land Rover brand values of capability with composure as well as the importance of teamwork. There are few that do this better than the National Schools First XV competition.
Bearing witness to how special a season final or rivalry school clash can be to the communities involved, the local Land Rover team also understand how even at a grassroots level, rugby is embedded into Kiwi culture.
With the 2021 season soon to wrap up, Land Rover are now six years into their First XV partnership, supporting school teams up and down the country, as well as partnering with media provider NZME and broadcast provider SKY to support the coverage of the games on Sky Sport.
“There are tons of brilliant stories from this competition that take place both on and off the field,” says Land Rover Marketing Manager, Luke Meurant. “We choose to support both the coverage of the games as well as the individual schools so we can highlight the great work being done to build better people, not just better players.”
To make sure the right stories are being shared, Land Rover use their media partnerships to promote content themed around leadership, culture, service, and discipline. This year, the brand has worked alongside NZ Herald, Sky Revision, and the NZ Rugby World magazine to make sure all content is supporting competitive play and striving for excellence, whilst also acknowledging the need for balance.
So yes, while the games are undoubtedly competitive, Land Rover’s stance on First XV media coverage is simple, focus on the positive and the spirit of the game to keep kids enjoying the sport and the rugby communities engaged.
At a local level, this sponsorship has also included Land Rover’s eight retailers around the country. Each retailer partners with a school that best represents their customer base, allowing them to have a presence at each game and show their support through branded merchandise and invitations to local drive days.
“We have loved our partnership with Westlake Boys High School,” says Archibald and Shorter North Shore Dealership Principle, Shawn Rushby. “We have had the privilege of being invited along to the games, as well as events like the start of season capping ceremony – it’s really helped us appreciate just how special it is for the kids and their families to be in their school’s First XV team.”
For Luke, it’s the excitement at each of the games that serves as a good reminder to just how much value the brand can add back into the sport.
“It’s surreal seeing the crowds these games pull. There’s so much passion, energy and loyalty from the schools and it feels great to be a part of this. But it’s not about trying to find the next All Black, instead we want to play a role in keeping kids in the game through providing a spotlight on the great work being carried out in the playing communities.”
Looking ahead to future seasons, Land Rover will continue to encourage content that will build better people and players and be selective by choosing media partnerships that are also encouraging a similar sentiment.
“Each season we will look to shine a light on a new topic within First XV Rugby that has positive stories that deserve to be told,” says Luke.