The commercial directors of the England and Wales Cricket Board
(ECB) and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) are in talks about a series of
joint marketing initiatives, including the launch of a co-branded travel
Terry Blake, commercial chief of the ECB, and Paul Vaughan of the RFU
have held meetings to explore opportunities presented by the similar
audience profiles of the two sports.
The talks have focused on developing a travel club for cricket and rugby
union fans, but it is understood they may also consider advertising at
each other's events - or even joint merchandising activity.
Such an alliance would represent the first of its kind in top-level UK
sport and could be extended to include other governing bodies.
No timetable has been set for the completion of the talks or the launch
of any of the joint marketing initiatives.
"It makes sense for us to talk to another sport that has a similar
audience," said Vaughan. "Rugby union is popular in the winter and
cricket is a summer sport, so it avoids any risk of us cannibalising
each other's audiences."
Blake, who negotiated the deal that sees the England team's home test
matches sponsored by Npower, added that he would look at "a range of
options for exploiting people's interest in sport".
Blake is seeking partners for the ECB's overseas and online broadcast
rights, and is undertaking research about potential cricket formats that
would appeal to sponsors and broadcasters.
The RFU hopes to announce a sponsor for its domestic cup competitions
within the next few weeks. Vaughan joined the RFU earlier this year from
Octagon, where he was a senior vice-president.