Six Nations Rugby, the official organising body of the Six Nations Championships and autumn internationals, have officially agreed a long-term strategic partnership with CVC Fund VII, subject to customary regulatory approvals. The partnership with Six Nations Rugby – worth £365million for the six rugby unions after the sale of 14.3 per cent of commercial rights for the tournament – follows the newly centralised ownership and operational activities for both the men’s, women’s and C20s Six Nations championships, alongside the autumn international series.

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A Six Nations statement announcing the deal on Thursday read: “The objective of the partnership is to invest to grow and develop the game; to further enhance the sporting spectacle of all the tournaments, the teams and the brands; and to build the data, technology, and broader commercial capabilities to support these ambitious plans. 

“These steps will ensure the continued development of these prestigious tournaments for the benefit of existing fans, and to attract a new more diverse and global fan base, which will support the wider rugby community, including the players, clubs, and unions, to achieve their full potential over the long-term.

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“CVC will bring to the partnership its significant experience in sports, as well as its global network, working alongside the unions and the Six Nations Rugby management team, to deliver on ambitious growth plans for the Six Nations championships and autumn international series. 

“Under the terms of the agreement the six unions will retain sole responsibility for all sporting matters as well as majority control of commercial decisions. The CVC Fund VII investment into Six Nations Rugby will be paid to the six unions over a period of five years, reflecting the long-term nature of the partnership. This capital investment, combined with the expected growth of the tournaments, will help the unions to support the development of rugby at all levels in their respective territories over the years ahead.”

Ben Morel, Six Nations CEO, said: “This is a hugely positive development and I want to express my thanks to all parties involved. In particular, our six unions and federations, for the strong sense of unity and collaboration they have shown throughout this process to create a unified Six Nations Rugby and agree to the partnership with CVC.

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“The Six Nations championship is steeped in rugby tradition, stretching back to 1883, and together with the women’s, U20s and autumn international series, is synonymous with all the excitement, passion and competitiveness that rugby has to offer. This external investment is an important validation of what Six Nations Rugby has achieved to date and is a key next step as we invest to grow the game on the world stage.” 

“When we started this journey, our aim was to ensure we found the right strategic partner, who can add real value and is committed to a long-term relationship. CVC recognises the exciting potential in the Six Nations Championships and Autumn International series, and they are aligned with our vision for the future. 

“CVC has a proven track record of partnering to support growth strategies in sport and is uniquely positioned to help promote collaboration across the sport of rugby for the benefit of fans, players, clubs and unions and all other rugby stakeholders.”

An IRFU statement from CEO Philip Browne added: “The IRFU, together with our fellow five unions, is phasing its sale of equity to CVC, with payments materialising over the next five seasons. The total capital proceeds to Irish Rugby, if the deal is approved, will be up to £48m over this period, with approximately £6m net of costs due when the deal closes, later this year. It is also expected that annual long-term revenues from the Six Nations will increase.

“This partnership will serve to increase the ambition, scope and attractiveness of the tournament in the coming seasons for players, fans, commercial partners and the ongoing development of our sport.”

WRU CEO Steve Phillips said: “This is a pivotal moment in the history of the international game in Wales. Ultimately, this deal will be a catalyst for the growth of our game. It will directly improve the international tournaments we participate in, further engaging new and existing fans alike. Increased interest drives other opportunities both on and off the field. Indirectly the investment will in turn provide the foundations on which the whole game can flourish.”

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