By Daniel Etchells

USA Rugby has announced a 10-year agreement with IMG ©USA RugbyUSA Rugby, the national governing body for the sport of rugby in the United States, has announced a groundbreaking 10-year partnership with the global leader in sports, fashion and media, IMG.

The agreement will focus on the branding and marketing of USA Rugby's College National Championships weekend and College 7s National Championships, which are due to begin in the spring of 2015.

Although USA Rugby is said to be pleased with the recent improvements in competition, live stream production and host venues for the Men's Division 1A and Division I-AA National Championships, as well as the Women's DI and DII National Championships, it is hoped that aligning with IMG will further the positive growth and exposure of these events.

The US played the All Blacks in a landmark match at Chicago's Soldier Field yesterday, which was considered a success, despite the visitors winning 74-6.

They have also qualified for next year's Rugby World Cup in England with their matches due to be screened live on Universal Sports and NBC. 

"We are delighted that IMG chose to support rugby at this important and exciting time for the game," said USA Rugby chief executive Nigel Melville, a former England captain. 

"Combining these strengths will enable us to build a superb National Championship competition in both 7s and 15s - National Championships that are open to all and where the best programmes each year can compete for the honour of being crowned national champions.

"While there have been collegiate rugby postseasons played outside of USA Rugby's official Championships in recent years, we are confident that teaming with IMG to create a single, recognised Championship for each competitive division is the best way to enhance the sport in America."

IMG has more than 50 years of experience in growing global audiences, offering expertise in the promotion and marketing of sports and entertainment, and has strong relationships with universities and sponsors.

Additionally, IMG has pre-existing expertise in rugby, having been the exclusive commercial representative for the International Rugby Board (IRB) Rugby World Cup since 1995, managing sponsorship, commercial ticketing, television rights distribution and licensing for the tournament.

The United States were beaten 74-6 by New Zealand in a test match on Saturday ©Getty Images The United States were beaten 74-6 by New Zealand in a test match on Saturday
©Getty Images

"USA Rugby and IMG will make a powerful team in transforming our National Championships into the ultimate competition in the United States for college rugby," said USA Rugby collegiate director Rich Cortez.

"IMG's association with the development of major athletic events speaks volumes of the strategic direction and possibilities of college rugby in America."

Jay Ogden, IMG senior vice-president, added: "IMG is thrilled to form a long-term relationship with USA Rugby.

"Our global footprint and knowledge of event and commercial management will help strengthen USA Rugby's presence in the US and ensure student athletes enjoy the highest level of competition."

USA Rugby currently oversees an emerging Olympic development pathway for elite athletes.

In October 2009, the International Olympic Committee announced rugby sevens will make its Olympic debut at Rio 2016.