The South African Rugby Union said Asics Corp. (7936) will replace Canterbury as the clothing and kit sponsor for the national side, the Springboks, and provincial teams from Jan. 1.
The company, based in Tokyo, signed a six-year agreement with SARU, Mark Alexander, deputy president of the nation’s rugby governing body, said in a presentation in Johannesburg today.
The Asics deal will cover the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and the tournament in 2019. The Japanese company competes with Adidas AG (ADS) and Nike Inc (NKE:US) and sponsors running in France, Australia, the Netherlands and Italy. Absa, the South African bank controlled by Barclays Plc (BARC), which was renamed Barclays Africa Group Ltd. (BGA) on Aug. 2, is the main sponsor for the national team.
“Asics has made a strategic decision to make the sport of rugby a priority,” Alistair Cameron, Asics’s head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, said. “The Springboks are one of the most important assets in the sporting-goods world. We want to build the brand awareness together.”
Asics is also considering setting up factories in South Africa, he said.
The Springboks, which won the World Cup in 1995 and 2007, is currently the ranked second behind New Zealand’s All Blacks, according to the International Rugby Board.
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