Mastercard continues to champion the development of women in sport though its Start Something Priceless campaign, launched in South Africa in celebration of women’s month

Johannesburg, South Africa – 12 August 2019: Mastercard, a Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019TM, is strengthening its commitment to women’s rugby in South Africa. In celebration of women’s month, Mastercard unveiled a Priceless Surprise where its Rugby World Cup 2019 ™ ambassadors, Bryan Habana and Dan Carter, treated the Pirates Women’s Rugby Club in Johannesburg to a priceless talk and field coaching session.

The unsuspecting women were watching a Dan Carter tutorial video as part of their usual training session, when Habana, one of the top test try scorers of all time, and Carter, New Zealand star and three-time winner of the prestigious World Rugby Player of the Year award, walked into the change room.

“The team was caught completely off-guard, and immediately started screaming and cheering when they saw their heroes in the flesh,” says Chanel Alberts, Pirates Women’s Rugby club coach.

Habana and Carter shared their personal experiences, provided encouraging and motivational tips on the importance of club rugby and personally coached them on key plays to give the team an advantage on the field.

“Meeting these rugby legends was not just an unforgettable experience, but truly a Mastercard masterclass. We have incorporated one of their plays into our game plan, which has become the recipe for of our success,” says Alberts.

Released as part of Mastercard’s Start Something Priceless campaign, the Priceless Surprise demonstrates how rugby empowers women players at a grassroots level and how passions like sport can help people overcome personal challenges, confront bias to pursue their dreams and transform adversity into strength.

“Rugby is a passion that has the power to transcend boundaries and bring us together – as a nation, as proud fans and as players of a sport,” says Beatrice Cornacchia, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Middle East and Africa at Mastercard. “As a proud partner to Rugby World Cup 2019™, we are looking to Start Something Priceless in South Africa, and what better way to inspire, and change the lives of these inspirational women, by delivering unexpected experiences delivered by these rugby superstars themselves.”

Alberts started the Pirates Women’s Rugby club in 2017 in a bid to make rugby more inclusive for players from different backgrounds, as well as make the women’s game more professional and accessible to South African fans. The team has gone from strength to strength, recently winning the Jozi Women’s League final.

“As a historically male-dominated contact sport, women have until recently not considered rugby as a career option. But the benefits of the organised game are hugely beneficial for women, who have throughout history felt disempowered due to their gender. Rugby is extremely empowering and liberating for women as it gives you the freedom to be yourself and that’s powerful. The game specifically emphasises mental resilience, courage in the face of adversity, and camaraderie,” says Alberts.

According to World Rugby, women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing team sports in the world, with more than 2.7 million women and girls playing the game.

“The growth of women’s rugby globally has been absolutely phenomenal,” says Habana. “The beauty of rugby is that if we were all the same, it would be an unbelievably boring sport.”

To further demonstrate its commitment to the development of grassroots women’s rugby, Mastercard is sponsoring the Pirate’s Women’s Rugby club to participate in the 50th Dubai Rugby 7s Invitational Tournament taking place from 5 to 7 December 2019. The Pirates club has been invited to participate in the event in the past but was unable to do so due to a lack of funding.

“As a long-standing advocate of the importance of diversity and inclusion, Mastercard believes this is an opportune moment to invest in grassroots clubs and players, as this is the most direct way of putting much needed resources into women’s sports. We believe that brands that connect to the passions of their audience become more relevant, trusted and integrated into people’s lives,” says Cornacchia.

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Mastercard: Birgit Deibele, Mastercard, birgit.deibele@mastercard.com, 071 464 0983