The International Sports Press Association and APO Group join forces to promote African rugby

AIPS CONGRESS
From left to right Obi Mitchell; president of AIPS Africa, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard; Founder & CEO of APO group, Abdelaziz Bougja; Chairman of World Rugby's African association and Gianni Merlo; President of AIPS holding the official Rugby Africa Ball during the 81st AIPS congress at Le Plaza Hotel on May 8, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Jorge Luis Alvarez Pupo/Getty Images for APO Group

The International Sports Press Association (AIPS) and APO Group the leading media relations’ consultancy and press release distribution service in Africa and the Middle East, have announced a partnership agreement aimed at enhancing the visibility of African rugby on a global scale.

Founded in 1924, AIPS has established itself as the leading body for international sports media across the world. Today, more than 150 National Sports Journalist Associations (NSJAs) and nearly 10,000 individual members from more than 150 countries (including 42 in Africa) are affiliated to the organization.

As part of its activities, AIPS works closely with some of the world’s biggest sports federations, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), football’s world governing body FIFA, and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

In Africa, the sub-association, AIPS Africa, counts 6000 members working as reporters, writers, photographers, commentators and editors in print, online and broadcast platforms. Locally, the AIPS team works towards defending clean sports, the freedom and independence of sports media and supporting sports media projects. They also provide leadership through strategic partnerships and the implementation of creative programs to celebrate and spread excellence in sports media and the sports sector in general.

Founded in 2007, APO Group is the leading media relations consultancy and press release distribution service in Africa and the Middle East. APO Group is the main Official Sponsor of World Rugby’s African association, Rugby Africa.

Welcoming the partnership, Gianni Merlo, President of AIPS, stated: “Working together with APO Group presents an essential new step towards supporting not only the sport of rugby in Africa, but also to strengthening our reach to sports journalists across the African continent, informing them about the activities of AIPS and increasing their professional knowledge on a sport that is growing rapidly. The work that APO is doing for African rugby aligns with the crucial AIPS goal of representing a bridge between its members from the international sports media community and representatives of international and continental federations like Rugby Africa.”

Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and CEO of APO Group, stated: “With AIPS, we share the same desire and commitment to leveraging our expertise and capabilities to support African rugby in realizing its potential and stepping up to the global stage. In 2002, only six African countries were playing the game. Today, 38 out of World Rugby’s 105 members are from Africa. There’s an increased interest in African rugby by international media as evidenced by the number of articles published recently. Last month alone, several articles about African rugby appeared in CNN, BBC, ESPN, Rugby World magazine, Radio France Internationale, Rugby Today Radio sport – a New Zealand sports radio- but also in XINHUA, the largest Chinese news agency. Collaborating with AIPS will enable us to generate greater exposure and bring a new dimension to the discipline across the whole continent”.

Mitchell Obi, President of AIPS Africa said: “We are very excited about joining forces with APO Group. It couldn’t be better for us to partner with the leader in media relations for Africa and the Main Official Sponsor of Rugby Africa. We’ve overseen a huge surge in rugby’s popularity across the continent in the last decade. Among the sports expanding in Africa, rugby is definitely on the top of the list. APO Group and AIPS are in a privileged position to help heighten awareness of African rugby and engage new audiences”.

AIPS CONGRESS
From left to right Obi Mitchell; president of AIPS Africa , Abdelaziz Bougja; Chairman of World Rugby’s African association, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard; Founder & CEO of APO group and Gianni Merlo; President of AIPS pose the new Rugby Africa Gold Cup’s perpetual trophy during the 81st AIPS congress at Le Plaza Hotel on May 8, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Jorge Luis Alvarez Pupo/Getty Images for APO Group

This is a pivotal year for African rugby. Ten exciting competitions will start very soon including the iconic Africa Gold Cup – which in 2018 doubles as a qualifier for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan – and the Africa Rugby 7s tournament, a qualifier for the 2020 Olympics. Up to three African teams, including South Africa, could be representing the continent at the World Cup, the world’s third-largest sporting event after the Olympics Games and the FIFA World cup.

All these events will provide exceptional moments for African sports journalists and a tremendous opportunity for them to share their stories with the local audience and the world.

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