Wasserman is expanding its reach with a new rugby division. The sports marketing and talent management shop has acquired Esportif, a global rugby agency and management firm, and will rebrand the venture as Wasserman Rugby. Esportif’s roster includes Irish star Tadhg Furlong, England’s Ellis Genge, Welsh veteran Alun Wyn Jones and Kiwi Richie Mo’unga, as well as Scottish national team coach Gregor Townsend. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Esportif’s operations and global staff will fold into the Wasserman umbrella immediately. Wasserman Rugby’s reach will extend from the UK and Ireland to New Zealand, South Africa, France, Australia, Argentina, Italy and Japan. The agency said it plans to expand to other regions where the sport is seeing growth.
“Esportif has built a leading Rugby business, one that fits both structurally and geographically alongside our other global talent representation practices, and adds a new and important sport to our agency,” Wasserman CEO and Chairman Casey Wasserman said. “We are very excited about welcoming the Esportif team into the fold, and expect that the pairing of their clients with Wasserman’s suite of client services and industry connections will push the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of rugby.”
“The acquisition is huge for us and offers an exciting opening for growth in the rugby industry,” Esportif leadership said in a joint statement. “It enables us to accelerate our ability to offer our clients much more of a holistic service and will strengthen our existing practices and expand our expertise to current and future clients. We are excited about the platform this will provide for rugby players to take their place alongside other Wasserman global superstar athletes and artists on the world stage.”
The news comes as the sport continues to grow beyond Western Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Rugby’s most recent World Cup, held in Japan in 2019, attracted a record 857 million viewers around the world and welcomed a total of 1.7 million fans to the matches.
The United States is particularly well-positioned for growth as host of the 2028 Los Angeles Games (rugby sevens will be contested at these Olympics), and both the men’s rugby World Cup in 2031 and the women’s edition in 2033. Organizations like Major League Rugby and Premier Rugby Sevens are also continuing to push the professional version of the sport throughout North America.
The deal is Wasserman’s third major acquisition this year. In January, the Los Angeles-based agency acquired The Montag Group, a media agency with clients including CBS’ Jim Nantz, NBC’s Mike Tirico, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and TNT’s Kenny Smith. In April, it completed a deal for Paradigm Music UK’s live music representation business, deepening its endeavors in music and entertainment.