Penn Mutual Loves Rugby

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By Jeffrey Fleischman

Chief Marketing and Digital Officer, The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company

After two years of sponsoring the sport, most people with a connection to rugby have heard of Penn Mutual. Over that span, the rugby community has come to know Penn Mutual well, but we have also learned a lot about the sport and the great people it encompasses.

When initially approached about sponsoring rugby, we quickly realized that as a life insurance company, we had a lot in common with the sport. While rugby is the fastest growing team sport in the United States among Millennials, Penn Mutual is one of the most progressive and forward looking companies. Both of us had clear visions for the future and thought the partnership could take us both to new heights.

Penn Mutual’s Jeff Fleischman with U.S. stars Madison Hughes and Kristen Thomas

Since getting behind rugby, we realized that the values Penn Mutual embraces are completely aligned to the values and culture within the sport. Among these are teamwork, relationships, giving back to the community, and respect for one another. In fact, these are all values that we have built into the fabric of our company culture for the last 170 years. These common values are one of the reasons this partnership has worked out so well and continues to grow.

One of my favorite encounters with the sport in person was during an event that was held aboard the Battleship New Jersey. CBS radio was doing a remote broadcast there and the Army and Navy rugby teams put on an exhibition to visitors, which included several local school children who were there on a field trip. These children may have never heard nor seen a single rugby play before that day, but they were totally engrossed by the demonstration. I was impressed by the respect the teams showed for each other, despite being rivals on the field. After speaking with several players and being interviewed with the Navy coach on air, it was clear to me that respect and integrity are values that are ingrained into their everyday lives.

It is these common values that have paved the way for us to forge meaningful relationships with the rugby community. Our offices across the country have connected with local rugby programs and what we have learned is that rugby players are loyal, compassionate and charitable, particularly to those that support them.

I was in the elevator at our annual Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC) last year with several players from the Indiana rugby team. We got to talking about their program and how Mark Cuban was a supporter. One of the players asked me about my connection to the CRC and when I told them I worked at Penn Mutual, their faces lit up. As they got off the elevator, each one of them shook my hand and thanked me for what Penn Mutual is doing for the sport. At that moment, the light bulb went off and it was clear to me that we were making a difference and connecting with the rugby community.

After two years, the rugby community knows that we are here to grow the sport, not just write a check as a title sponsor for the CRC. People have recognized us for our commitment to growing both men’s and women’s rugby. We have expanded our partnerships to include the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO), an organization that is dedicated to increasing men’s and women’s rugby participation with school enrollment under 4,500 students. We are also committed to growing the Rugby Business Network (RBN) in the United States, having helped establish nine chapters across the country since becoming a strategic partner with the RBN. Most recently, we partnered with Rhino Rugby to provide a subsidy for new uniforms. This program has given over 80 college programs a discount on their uniform kits, which we’re thrilled to help with.

We are proud to support a group of dedicated and passionate people.Penn Mutual is thrilled by the success of our partnership and we are excited about what the future holds.

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