Rugby: French company Altrad in talks to become new All Blacks jersey sponsor

The All Blacks jersey may soon get a European makeover.

According to French sports publications L'Equipe and Midi Olympique, NZ Rugby is negotiating with French construction materials company Altrad to replace AIG as the next jersey sponsor of the national team.

The American insurance giant's sponsorship deal expires this year.

Altrad is owned by Syrian-born billionaire Mohen Altrad and also sponsors the French national team, whose jerseys feature its logo at a cost of €7m (NZ$11.7m) a season. 

Altrad, which also owns French Top 14 club Montpellier, is reported by Forbes to have a net worth of $4.8 billion.

The two-year deal with NZ Rugby would reportedly be worth €18m ($NZ30m).

Altrad has confirmed his interest in becoming the All Blacks jersey sponsor, although no deal has yet been tabled.

"It is a prestigious brand," Altrad tells L'Equipe. "The All Blacks have been the best in rugby terms globally for a long time. 

“We are interested, it is true, but to date, nothing has been done. It is impossible to say that the Altrad group will be the next jersey sponsor of the All Blacks.

The French rugby team are currently sponsored by Altrad.
The French rugby team are currently sponsored by Altrad. Photo credit: Getty

"Negotiations are underway. We don't want to buy the All Blacks, just be sponsors. 

"We trade, as AIG has done, as we are currently doing with the French team. We do not want to interfere in management or impose any constraints."

In 2012, NZ Rugby signed a five-year term with AIG worth approximately $80m. That contract was renewed in 2016.

Mohen Altrad reveals that former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick has been his link with NZR, after meeting at a seminar in 2018.

The proposed price tag is based on an independent study commissioned by the French Rugby Federation, taking into account the impact of COVID-19 on global sports.

"It valued the All Blacks at US$13m ($NZ18m), a currency whose price is significantly lower than that of the Euro," Altrad tells L'Equipe. "But there has been COVID, sport in general and rugby in particular have suffered.

"The prices are no longer the same. We can see it just in the price of the players to be recruited."

But Altrad hints NZR's preference to have the sponsor attached to all its national rugby teams may be a deal breaker.

"The New Zealanders favour a package in which the sponsor of the flagship team [the All Blacks] is also that of satellite teams such as the Black Ferns, the Māori All Blacks, the sevens and junior teams," he notes.

"It's like someone telling you 'come to my house, I have everything you need, but the proposed offer is not necessarily adequate to our demand’."