All part and parcel of the game
Their livery may be yellow and red, but they are a 'white knight' in Hong Kong rugby circles. With the match at the cross-roads because of poor ticket sales and the drums banging in New Zealand to move the game to Twickenham, DHL stepped up to the plate. While some might have considered it a bold move, DHL saw it as an opportunity, and the Bledisloe Cup fitted perfectly with its corporate strategy.
'The Bledisloe Cup was a natural connection for us to sponsor,' says Jerry Hsu, president of DHL Greater China. 'The spirit of the Bledisloe Cup reflects our core values of teamwork, speed, a 'can-do attitude', passion, pride and prowess. These things are practically part of our company's DNA. The Bledisloe Cup builds on our sponsorship of next year's single largest sporting event internationally, the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.'
Hsu would not reveal details of the sponsorship package, but the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union breathed a huge sigh of relief when the deal was signed. The attendance numbers immediately shot up with DHL's guest list and a 3,500 ticket giveaway to mini rugby clubs.
'Rugby is a truly international game and we are equally global with a network of 220 countries,' Hsu said. 'The busiest hub in our business is in Hong Kong. Sponsoring the Bledisloe not only is the right fit for our brand, we feel it's the best way to reach our customers. In many respects it's a celebration of our success.'
Among the company's high-profile guests this week is former All Black lock Ian Jones, who says the game will leave many legacies.
'Watching this game might start a kid's dream. Young kids have got to have aspirations and heroes. If one of these children plays for Hong Kong, or the country of their birth, this will be a lasting legacy beyond who wins today. This will be a day many will never forget.'
Having been an All Black in the 1991 and 1995 World Cups, Jones understands the adrenalin coursing through the players' veins today. 'With any sporting achievement, what you recall are the 'firsts'. For Hong Kong kids, it might be their first Bledisloe. You never forget the first time you pull on a jersey for your country. The Wallabies get to play the All Blacks four times a year and they go to England, but playing in Hong Kong is unique, it's a 'first' for many.'
According to Jones, rivalry is the key that drives the Bledisloe. 'The Wallabies and the All Blacks are the greatest rivals. Our similarities as nations drive us. We'd compete in tiddlywinks. There's a lot riding on this. Winning this game is about pride and confidence building.
'Winning is a habit, and the All Black have got into a wonderful winning habit. Even when they're down in the scoreboard, their history of being on top means that they know how to turn that around and keep the momentum going. The Wallabies will be looking forward to slowing the momentum down to find the chink in their armour.'