As rugby continues to grow in popularity among American audiences, REP Worldwide announced, in conjunction with the 2018 Licensing Expo, that the company has added the United States Rugby Players Association (USRPA) as the company’s newest client. The agreement with the USRPA includes both men’s and women’s group player rights.

Launched in 2017 by the NFL Players Association’s (NFLPA) licensing and marketing arm, NFL Players Inc., REP Worldwide (Representing Every Player) is a first-of-its-kind group player representation business offering licensing and brand management services to athlete-driven sports properties.

The USRPA, which is independently governed by the players and includes all rugby athletes who represent U.S. National Teams, has helped accelerate the interest in one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. Interest in rugby and its players is at fever pitch, as excitement is building for men’s and women’s competition at the Rugby Sevens World Cup 2018 in San Francisco this July 20-22, the first time a Rugby World Cup has been played on American soil. Members of USA Rugby will also represent the country in the sport’s signature event, the Rugby World Cup, in Japan, where the men’s team will first take the pitch on September 26, 2019 against England.

“Timing could not be better for us to welcome this extraordinary group of athletes to the REP Worldwide team,” said Steve Scebelo, president of REP Worldwide. “The tenacity and toughness that rugby players exhibit in the game will be a huge support in building a new group licensing program featuring their likenesses, as this global powerhouse of a sport continues to gain momentum and appeal in the U.S.”

The USRPA joins REP Worldwide’s client roster alongside the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, both of which recently announced their first slate of licensed partners. REP Worldwide will provide resources and representation to the USRPA as the organization seeks to build and manage a robust and sustainable group licensing and player-marketing program.

“With rugby on the rise in the U.S., we see significant opportunity for our players to benefit from the type of group licensing and player marketing programs that REP Worldwide can deliver,” said Michael Young, USRPA executive director. “We’re excited to partner with REP Worldwide to put their tremendous expertise to work in support of our elite men and women players.”

As part of the agreement, REP Worldwide will structure and manage USRPA licensing partnerships across merchandise categories including digital, apparel and hardlines. Additionally, REP Worldwide will consult on marketing activation, driving support for players and licensees at retail, as well as develop content opportunities via ACE Media, the NFLPA’s content and production subsidiary.

“Our partnership with REP Worldwide will provide us with meaningful ways to focus on revenue creation on behalf of our members,” said Blaine Scully, USRPA chairperson and USA Eagles men’s captain. “With the sport experiencing considerable growth in the U.S., we see the opportunity that exists for our membership to benefit off the pitch from a strong sports licensing program.”