Twickenham set for 5G boost as RFU extends O2 deal

Twickenham Stadium is set to benefit from increased connectivity after England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) signed a new long-term deal with its main sponsor, telecommunications company O2.

The new five-year deal will ensure O2’s branding continues to feature on the front of all match day and training kit. As part of the new agreement, which comes into effect in September 2021, O2 has pledged to equally fund the men’s and women’s game over the course of the partnership.

The new deal will take the two parties’ relationship to 30 years and increased connectivity at Twickenham is one of the key aspects of the partnership. O2 5G and O2 Business products will be used at the 82,000-seat stadium as part of plans to enhance the fan experience.

As part of the agreement, O2 customers will also be given the opportunity to access priority tickets for all England matches 48 hours before general release. Customers can also benefit from exclusive player meet and greets, and 20 per cent match-day discount on kit at the Twickenham Stadium store.

The deal will also see the continuation of O2 Inside Line, the exclusive England Rugby behind-the-scenes content series, which includes content from training camps, live broadcasts from camps during test week and exclusive pre- and post-match content from O2 Blueroom.

In February, O2 released a new report predicting that 5G technology could boost the UK’s live entertainment sector by as much as £2.3bn (€2.5bn/$3bn) over the next 10 years. O2 predicted that 5G innovations will revolutionise the pre-event experience through smart ticketing and connected venues. AR-assisted shopping would also lead to shorter queues when purchasing merchandise, with fans able to try on their most-wanted pieces and accessories virtually before collecting them at a nearby stand.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: “O2 have been a loyal supporter of England Rugby, a partnership that has lasted for 25 years and we are proud to continue to carry their logo front and centre on our shirts for a further five years.

“O2’s commitment to equally support both our elite teams is commendable and it’s great to collaborate with a partner that truly shares our same passion to see the women’s game flourish and continue to grow for future generations to enjoy.”

Nina Bibby, chief marketing officer of O2, added: “There has never been a more important time to get behind rugby, a sport we love and have invested in for over 25 years. We are proud to support the RFU through our extended partnership, which we believe is the longest shirt sponsorship in the history of UK sport.

“Our new agreement brings investment parity from O2 to England Men and England Women. The future for English rugby is bright, and together we want to make sure that rugby emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever before.”

Image: Maxwell Hamilton/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size