Luxury watchmaker revealed as Rugby Hall of Fame sponsor - The Rugby Observer

Luxury watchmaker revealed as Rugby Hall of Fame sponsor

Andy Morris 28th Feb, 2018 Updated: 28th Feb, 2018   0

A LUXURY watchmaker has been revealed as the sponsor of the World Rugby Hall of Fame, in a deal which will see £600,000 invested back into the local economy.

Tudor Watches announced the sponsorship on its website – a week after Rugby Borough Council strongly rejected claims the Hall of Fame was ‘being run at a loss at the taxpayer’s expense’.

Tudor, a sister company of Rolex, has a strong association with the sport as the official timekeeper of next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan and the World Rugby Sevens tournament, and a sponsor of the World Rugby Awards.

RBC leader Coun Michael Stokes said: “As Rugbeians we are all proud of our past, and particularly with our special role as the birthplace of the game of Rugby.

“Our unique partnership with World Rugby has led to the town having a world class visitor attraction for the very first time and, following key meetings at the Rugby World Cup 2019 draw in Kyoto last May, we now have the backing of a world class brand.

“By working together and with our partners we can make the most of this valuable asset for the benefit of our town centre, our residents and businesses.”

Last week, Coun Stokes said claims made by Rugby Labour Party that the tourist attraction had failed to generate the promised income – repeated in a Private Eye article – were based on a misunderstanding of figures.

He added the Hall of Fame was never intended to be a commercial project.

The Private Eye article, based on a Freedom of Information request by a contributor from Rugby, claimed the annual cost of hosting, licensing and operating the Hall of Fame was nearly £350,000 – on top of an initial £1.2million outlay by RBC.

But a council spokesman said the £1.2million figure was the total cost of running the attraction for an initial four year period, adding that the Private Eye’s local contact had “assumed erroneously the amount paid in year one is in addition to the overall cost of the project”.

The spokesman also denied Labour’s claim the museum received all-party approval on the basis it would generate £500,000 per year, saying there had never been such a forecast.

And while “an underachievement of ticketing income, sponsorship and ancillary services” means the Hall of Fame has so far generated £145,000 less than expected – as stated in a council agenda – the spokesman said visitor charges were only introduced part-way through the year to make the attraction more attractive to group visit organisers.

Coun Claire Edwards, leader of Rugby Borough Council’s Labour Group, said: “While it’s important we recognise the unique heritage of Rugby, we also have a responsibility to ensure taxpayers money is spent in an appropriate way. It’s clear that there is a gap between the amount of money spent when the amount of income from ticket sales is relatively so small.

“The Labour Group has always supported the Hall of Fame but made it clear our concerns that the finances have to stack up.”

Coun Stokes said the Private Eye’s local contributor had “misunderstood nearly all of the figures we provided in response to his recent Freedom of Information request.

“He is also clearly of the view that the World Rugby Hall of Fame was meant to be a commercial project, which is manifestly not the case.

“Councillors from all political groups accepted unanimously there would be a net cost to the council and that the benefits of supporting the diversification of the town centre with a world class visitor attraction outweighed the potential costs.

“For the first time in our history Rugby has a visitor attraction of which our residents can be proud.”


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