Hewlett-Packard (HP) Ireland has signed a three-year deal that will see it become the exclusive provider of technology products and services to the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) as well as a major corporate sponsor. The value of the technology agreement was not disclosed but was described by sources close to the company as “substantial”.
Apart from the provision of technology services, the partnership will also involve HP branding at matches, IRFU player appearances at HP events and a corporate hospitality package that will form the cornerstone of the HP corporate hospitality programme for the next three years. It is understood that the sponsorship element will partially although not wholly offset the cost of HP technology to the IRFU.
Four rugby internationals – Shane Byrne, Brian O’Driscoll, Malcolm O’Kelly and Shane Horgan – attended the launch last Friday at Lansdowne Road. Martin Murphy, general manager of HP Ireland, and Barry Keogh, president of the IRFU were also there.
Commenting on the announcement, Keogh said: “As the game of rugby continues to develop throughout the clubs and provincial branches of Ireland, the needs of the IRFU in terms of technology to drive this development also continue to grow. In this respect, the IRFU is delighted to welcome HP as a partner over the next three years and look forward to a successful relationship.”
Speaking at the launch, Murphy said: “Growth and development of the HP brand is one of the basics of growing our business. IRFU coach Eddie O’Sullivan has been pioneering technology and what it can bring to sport. For us, it’s a great fit and we can see endless potential for the use of technology in the sport.”
In an interview with siliconrepublic.com, Murphy described the partnership as a “perfect fit” for HP, which, like Irish rugby, is run on an all-Ireland basis. Also, Irish rugby’s appeal runs right across the board, from families to business interests, while HP also offers a range of consumer and business technology, he pointed out.
He added that technology was becoming increasingly important in the development of sport and that there was great potential to develop a number of innovative technologies on behalf of the IRFU, from smart card-based admission systems to video playback and analysis of games as an aid to coaching staff and players.
Murphy revealed that the seeds of the partnership were sown eight months before when O’Sullivan was used by HP as a motivational speaker for its senior management team and the possibilities for application of technology within rugby were first discussed.
By Brian Skelly
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