England players ‘will never be out of work again’ if they seal World Cup glory

first_img Since you’re here… Rugby union news On Saturday in Yokohama, when the white noise and chatter finally gives way to 80 minutes of crunching rugby, two distinct paths will confront Eddie Jones’s England team. Win the Rugby World Cup for a second time, and the pages of history – as well as sponsors’ wallets – will open up to embrace them. Lose, and they merely join the long list of plucky national sides that saw glory slip from their fingers.It is the ultimate sporting sliding doors moment. But if England are able to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, Mark Borkowski, a PR expert who has represented Diego Maradona, Michael Jackson and brands such as Virgin and Cadbury, predicts that England players will easily treble any earnings from sponsorship and marketing opportunities in the short term – and insists they will never be out of work again. Share on Pinterest Rugby World Cup 2019 Support The Guardian Read more England rugby union team Rugby World Cup Share on Messenger South Africa’s Siya Kolisi: ‘I’ve never seen this much support for the team’ Topics Share on WhatsApp Share on Twitter Share via Email Share on LinkedIn “There are two overriding factors in play,” he says. “First there’s social context of what we’re going through as a nation with Brexit, which makes people desperate for any form of relief,” he says. “People wake up to the B word. They go to sleep hearing the B word. The country is divided. In the middle of all this crap winning the Rugby World Cup would be a huge piece of good news and naturally magnify the attention on the team.“Then there’s rugby union’s strong connection with the professions. Sponsors will want these intelligent young men to represent their brands. Broadcasters will snap them up once they retire. And there is also a lucrative career on the corporate and after-dinner circuit for any sporting hero with a story to tell. These players will never be out of work again.”England’s 31-man squad have already earned £137,220 each for making the final and victory against South Africa would be worth another £41,298 a man. Yet those figures will pale into insignificance compared to the millions that will come their way in commercial spin-offs in the years ahead providing they are successful.But winning is everything. As Borkowski points out, those England players who played only in the 2007 final defeat to the Springboks have nowhere near the commercial clout of the Clive Woodward side that lifted the World Cup in 2003.Nearly 16 years after his drop-goal heroics, Jonny Wilkinson is able to command over £25,000 per appearance according to JLA, the UK’s largest agency for motivational and after-dinner speakers. Woodward and Lawrence Dallaglio are not far behind on £10,000-£25,000. And even less storied members of the 2003 team, including Will Greenwood, Ben Kay and Austin Healey, can charge between £5,000 and £10,000. And that is before all the broadcast and newspaper deals and myriad appearances on shows such as Celebrity Masterchef are taken into account.Tellingly, it is a struggle to find England players on the JLA roster who appeared only at the 2007 World Cup. Why book a runner-up when you can have a winner?Admittedly England’s 2019 vintage are not as well known as Wilkinson and co, given far less rugby is shown on domestic TV these days. Few are household names yet. However Borkowski insists: “No one will ever forget this group of likeable young men, from very different backgrounds, if they beat Australia, the All Blacks and South Africa in the space of a fortnight to win the World Cup.”Certainly as Jones’s side have burrowed deeper into the tournament it is not only the familiar names – captain Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Manu Tuilagi – who have grabbed the public’s attention but fresher faces too.Chief among those have been the flankers Tom Curry, 21, and Sam Underhill, 23, who have earned the nickname “the Kamikaze Twins” because – in the words of Jones – “they hit everything that moves”, have been outstanding in the knockout stages.They will have to be at least as belligerent again if England, who are regarded as warm favourites, are to overcome South Africa in what is expected to be a muscular and uncompromising encounter. If English sporting history is any guide, it is also unlikely to be straightforward. After all, the football team required extra-time and an Azerbaijani linesman to lift the 1966 World Cup.The rugby union team needed extra time and a Wilkinson drop goal in 2003. While a combination of Ben Stokes, a large dollop of luck and a super over, just about saw England’s cricketers over the line in their World Cup final in July.Richard Ayres, the founder and CEO of Seven Leagues, a digital strategy group whose clients include the NBA, Premier League and the Open, says that rugby union must be prepared to immediately leap into action to capitalise on an England victory.“We are seeing a large increase in the level of search around rugby, and the RFU and clubs across the country should already have a strategy in place to take advantage of the sport’s moment in the sun,” he says. “The RFU need to get into people’s inboxes, be on their social feed, and finding ways to retain these news fans.“We also know that lots of rugby clubs across the country are hosting parties with bacon butties and beer flowing from 8am in the morning,” he adds. “What they should be doing is saying: ‘Bring your friends and family, sign them up.’ The sport – much like the players themselves – must grab this moment with both hands.” Reuse this content Share on Facebook … we have a small favour to ask. 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