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Vodafone Business announces new partnership with UK Armed Forces Rugby Union

The Business Magazine article image for: Vodafone Business announces new partnership with UK Armed Forces Rugby Union
12 October 2022

Vodafone Business has announced a new multi-year partnership with UK Armed Forces Rugby Union (UKAF) as lead partner to all UKAF Rugby teams, seniors, U23s, veterans and rugby 7s.

UKAF Rugby Union is a combined team of the best players and support staff from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.

Newbury-based Vodafone will work with UKAF Rugby Union to enhance performance and the playing experience of soldiers, sailors and airmen and women representing all teams.

The partnership will deliver improved kit and provide the opportunity for teams to travel to international competitions, helping place UKAF at the pinnacle of Service Rugby.

The new sponsorship will also enable UKAF Rugby to further expand its portfolio of teams to include Men’s & Women’s Rugby Sevens and Veterans.

Thanks to the partnership, UKAF Rugby will be able to continue to enter the International Defence Rugby Competitions (IDRC), a tournament for military rugby teams aligned to the host nation and schedule of the Rugby World Cup for both men and women.

As part of the new deal, Vodafone will be front-of-shirt sponsor for the upcoming UKAF Women’s Rugby tour to Auckland, New Zealand for the inaugural Women’s International Defence Rugby Competition.

The kit from Akuma Sports will be worn for the first time in the team’s opening game against Australian Defence Force on Tuesday 11 October at College Rifles Rugby Grounds, Remuera, Auckland.

Steve Knibbs, head of business security at Vodafone: “As an army veteran myself I am incredibly proud to announce our new front-of-shirt sponsorship of UK Armed Forces Rugby.

"At Vodafone we have a long heritage of supporting both UK sport and the Armed Forces, so it is great to be able to bring the two together in this new partnership and help them reach their full potential on the world stage.”

Tom Blackburn, secretary at UKAF Rugby, said: “The support from Vodafone has allowed us to enter this prestigious and historic tournament on the other side of the world. We are really looking forward to wearing the new kit and making history in our attempt to become World Champions.”

Bethan Dainton, UKAF Women’s Rugby and Harlequins Women, said: “Going to the IDRC means so much. UKAF Women’s Rugby has grown from strength to strength over the last few years and we are so excited about the impact Vodafone’s sponsorship will have on the team.

"I feel honoured and privileged to follow in the footsteps of those who have set the foundation for us to take on this amazing opportunity to make history.”

The partnership with UKAF Rugby further expands Vodafone’s commitment to support rugby in the UK, building on partnerships with the Welsh Rugby Union as the founding principal partner of women and girls’ rugby in Wales, official technology partner for the Rugby League World Cup 2021, lead partner for the British and Irish Lions 2021 tour of South Africa, and lead partner of Wasps rugby and netball.

In 2018 Vodafone renewed its commitment to the Forces by re-signing the Armed Forces Covenant and continues to support veterans with connectivity though Vodafone’s everyone.connected campaign.


Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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