Visa International

Visa International Announces IRB U21 World Cup Sponsorship: Under 21s Extends Visa's Rugby World Cup 2003 Partnership

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA (ots) - As a complement to its highly successful global Rugby World Cup sponsorship, Visa International and the International Rugby Board (IRB) have announced that Visa will be the Presenting Sponsor of the second IRB Under 21 (IRB U21) World Cup which will take place in Oxfordshire, England from June 13-30, 2003.

    "With banks and branches in virtually every nation around the world, Visa's members and merchants can effectively market the RWC programs and special offers to hundreds of millions of cardholders worldwide," noted Tom Shepard, executive vice president, Global Marketing Partnerships and Sponsorship, Visa International.

    This event, which is an extension of Visa's RWC sponsorship, is a curtain-raiser for the upcoming Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2003 in Australia in October and November. Visa sees the U21 tournament as another opportunity to stimulate interest in RWC 2003 where it is creating unique benefits for its member financial institutions and their cardholders.

    Visa's sponsorship of RWC 2003 has resulted in a number of beneficial retail and travel programs with such participating sponsors as British Airways, Avis, Coca Cola, and Heineken in Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific, as well as providing up to 10'000 tickets for cardholders to win worldwide when Visa cards are used during these merchant and cardholder promotions.

    Retailers are using both online and in-store materials to promote special offers and incentives. Merchants are inviting cardholders to participate in point-of-sale promotions that could earn them discounts, gifts, tickets to local RWC 2003 matches or even a trip to the Finals.

    To further support the IRB U21 World Cup, Visa will work with its team of world-class international Rugby Ambassadors -- Gavin Hastings, Zinzan Brooke, John Eales and Francois Pienaar -- to help popularize and publicize the event in participating nations around the world. The four outstanding former players are working with Visa on a number of marketing and public relations promotions around RWC 2003 to help bring the passion, power and teamwork of rugby to fans worldwide.

    "The young men taking the field during this tournament represent the future representatives of their senior national sides," observed Shepard. "Our sponsorship of this unique event represents Visa's strong commitment to the future of the game of Rugby. We are proud to be the presenting sponsors of this year's IRB U21 World Cup."

    Over the years, the IRB U21 World Cup, formerly known as the SANZAR/UAR U21, has been the proving ground for future national sides featuring no fewer than 156 players who have gone on to win full international caps.

    Invitations have been sent to 12 nations to compete in the IRB U21: South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, Argentina, Canada and Japan. The IRB U21 tournament, which will be hosted by England's Rugby Football Union (RFU), begins with pool matches on 13 June. Defending champions South Africa will take on Ireland in the opening game. The Finals and ranking positional matches will be played on 29 June.

    About Visa

    Visa is the world's leading payment brand generating US$2.4 trillion in annual card sales volume. Visa has unsurpassed acceptance in more than 150 countries. The Visa organization plays a pivotal role in developing innovative payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa is a leader in Internet based payments and is pioneering the creation of u-commerce, or universal commerce -- the ability to conduct commerce anywhere, anytime, and any way. For more information, visit

ots Originaltext: Visa International

Michael Sherman
Company: Visa International
Phone:  650-432-3923
Ray Kerins
Company: GCI Group
Phone:  212-537-8039

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