Grassroots Women's Rugby Sponsorship

The start of something Priceless | And along the way, a 14:1 ROI to boot!

When investigating the opportunities to differentiate Mastercard’s RWC 2019 campaign in South Africa, an interesting data point came to light: women make up more than 50% of rugby fans.

The client/agency team took a calculated risk:

With World Rugby developing a focused approach to the women’s game and with women’s grassroots rugby still in its infancy in South Africa, creating an authentic moment of impact when “grassroots literally meets greatness” was a chance worth taking.

The content in Women’s Month. The response to 2019 Priceless Surprise at the Pirates Women’s Rugby Club, (press play – you won’t regret it!) took everyone involved by surprise. Game on!

The results: 2,2 million views during Women’s monthand more importantly, the local impact of changing perceptions of the team within their club and womens rugby amongst the greater community was the springboard for what came next: 4 years of building from the ground up, touching lives and contributing the growth of South African women’s rugby.

2019: The building blocks of success

Following on from the Women’s Day success Mastercard was able to develop an authentic brand story arc by enabling the Pirates Women’s rugby team to compete in the HSBC Dubai Rugby 7s Club Invitational, adding to another round of firsts.

Looking back, looking forward.  
Empowerment & Inclusion
Empowering Women

2020: Staying ahead of the game

To align with Mastercard’s business pillars of keeping women in mind and women involved, focusing on consumer passions and with the need to be “budget light”, we developed a 1st of its kind sponsorship of women’s grassroots rugby with the Golden Lions Rugby Union and Pirates Rugby Club, Johannesburg, South Africa, creating a new sponsorship space to own, develop and maximise ROI.

3 days before launch the Covid lockdown was implemented, creating the need for different solutions to support the women and girls isolating at home who would need to be conditioned, fit and ready for play. Solution: The first online coaching series developed specifically for women and girls, by women.

Mastercard’s Women’s Rugby Masterclass Series: Core Skills

A 13-part series in available online association with the GLRU for coaches and players.

Developed by Chanel Alberts, esteemed coach of the Golden Lions and Pirates women’s teams, together with contributing specialists, including Mastercard Global Ambassador, Bryan Habana.

1134 views all videos combined.


Celebrating Women’s Month:

Keep telling the story, changing hearts and minds.

- 4,4 million views
- VTR 22%

Another Priceless Surprise. Another global 1st.

2021: Kickoff!

ELEVATE: Renaming the amateur women’s club league to the Mastercard Pirates Women’s Grand Challenge together with a bespoke new Trophy; naming rights of the Mastercard Golden Lions Women (Senior team), significant brand presence

EMPOWER: Player kit – bespoke, fit-for-purpose shorts and match tops developed for comfort, ease of movement and to feel good with a number of clubs getting branded kit for the first time; branded practise & training equipmentprovided to all participating clubs to improve the levels of play. Additionally we created social media training materials and workshops for local clubs to start growing their social media presence to attract players and start creating self-sustaining fundraising campaigns.

EXPAND: leveraging the GLRU network to extend Mastercard’s acceptance footprint of scan to pay transactions

A game-changer: The power of national TV

One of the biggest challenges women’s rugby faced was the lack of national TV exposure. Not even the Springbok women’s matches were being broadcast.

Egg negotiated a first of its kind opportunity with the South Africa Broadcasting Corp (SABC) to sponsor a weekly 15 minute TV programme focused on the GLRU women’s grassroots rugby programme.

The show featured match highlights, player profiles and leader boards. it included branded sponsorship elements, consumer competitions, product placement and consumer education and provided a platform for client partners to reach the growing audience.

Impressive results surprised everyone and highlighted a growing interest in women’s rugby.

  • ROI: 14:1
  • 30% audience growth in 12 weeks
  • 3rd highest viewership in the time-slot across free to air channels and SuperSport

2022 & 2023: Consistency delivered real change

Mastercard’s ongoing support of the GLRU meant they were able to make much-needed systemic changes: women were included in the management and coaching structures, the sponsorship was extended to include the U16 and U18 girls teams and the development of a pilot for junior girls wanting to play.

  • The Mastercard Golden Lions played their Final at Emirates Airlines Park for the first time ever and were promoted into the SARU premiere league, increasing exposure through the SARU SuperSport streaming broadcast platform.
  • The U16 & U18s were unbeaten in the national SARU championship in both years
  • 3 were chosen to represent the Springbok U20s.
  • The Springbok women’s high performance and selection team started paying attention and this year 3 players, including Grassroots Brand Ambassador Piwokuhle Nyanda, have been chosen to play for South Africa.
  • The depth of talent in the club league significantly improved with a new winning team for the first time in 5 years

From a brand perspective, Mastercard’s presence was implemented at Emirates airlines park in key spaces, including the game day vendor team, adding real value to the sponsorship ROI.

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