When Jonny Wilkinson swung his cultured right boot through the ball that famous night in Sydney at the Rugby World Cup 12 years ago there were 26 seconds of extra time left on the clock. Seven weeks of furious action concluded with England’s poster boy delivering that late, killer blow to the tournament hosts Australia in their very own Telstra Stadium. His timing was immaculate; his precision, that of a surgeon. The Wallabies had no time left to respond. The game was up, and England became world champions for the first time.
Wilkinson’s performance that day has gone down in history of course, and this year a new hero will no doubt break from the ranks to claim the glory for his country when the 2015 version of the World Cup hits these shores in a few short weeks. In a sport where every second counts, and matches are frequently won and lost in the dying moments, accurate time-keeping is essential. Luxury Swiss watch manufacturers Tissot are world leaders in this area, and as proud sponsors of the RBS 6 Nations, they now have plenty of experience in rugby.
“Rugby shares our key values such as performance, team spirit, fair play and robustness,” says Tissot’s president, Francois Thiebaud. “Tissot has always chosen to partner with disciplines that reflect the brand’s image, and the RBS 6 Nations Championship is the ideal platform to showcase our timekeeping expertise in a dynamic international environment that embodies the brand’s spirit perfectly.”
It should not surprise us that sports of varying kinds turn to a Swiss brand for reliable, state of the art time-keeping. Tissot has a long and distinguished history in the field, having first made a chronograph designed to time sporting events way back in 1887. They were the first to undertake the role of official timekeeper in a sporting event, when the University Skiing Championships were held in Villars-sur-Ollon in 1938. Since those early days, Tissot has diversified into other sporting arenas, notably Moto GP, superbikes, cycling, fencing, ice hockey, and – since their RBS 6 Nations partnership began in 2013 – rugby union.
Time-keeping in rugby has not always enjoyed priority status. Before the introduction of the television match official in 2001, those watching live in the stands at stadia around the world were often in the dark as to the duration left in the match. Crazy as it might sound, those on the sofa at home were better placed. The broadcasters ensured they were up to speed with a match clock.
For Tissot, global brand growth and awareness are the targets, and Thiebaud maintains the relationship with rugby and the RBS 6 Nations is already bearing fruit. “Spectators are more likely to choose a brand because they associate it with their sport,” he says. “The sports we choose to partner with not only share our target markets, but also share our values and ethics. Our long term commitment to these sports further fortifies the connection between its followers, Tissot and our products.”
Rugby’s growing popularity is another factor in the partnership. This autumn’s World Cup will no doubt boost interest and participation levels across the globe. Thiebaud and his Tissot team are determined to capitalise on that surge of excitement when the annual Championship rolls around next spring.
“The demand for the RBS 6 Nations is incredible,” he adds. “Contrary to some people’s perception, it is not just a man’s sport. It has great appeal for women too. For some events a high attendance is difficult to reach, but it is the opposite for these internationals. No one turns down an invitation.”