Cricket and Rugby in marketing link

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

club.



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.



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