Thrown together during the recent Mouthguardgate debacle at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, Manu Tuilagi and OPRO have entered an agreement with Manu becoming the face of the OPRO Group.
The 20 year old Leicester Tigers player will become an ambassador for the company now known throughout the world as manufacturers of the branded mouthguards that both Manu and his
brother, Alesana, (and many other players) chose to wear during their matches while playing for England and Samoa respectively.
The four-year deal will run until 2015 and take in the next Rugby World cup which will be hosted by England.
The company, which is soon to launch a new sportswear division (OPRO360), is delighted to have Manu on board.
Sales director, Richard Evans, said: ‘We had been looking for a face of OPRO for some time, and Manu is an exciting young player. He is the right ambassador for us at the right time.’
When news of the fines imposed by the IRB on Alesana and Manu Tuilagi broke, OPRO was accused by the media of ambush marketing.
How could it be that both brothers wore their OPRO-branded mouthguards surely this could not be
This claim was strenuously denied by OPRO founder and managing Director, Dr Anthony Lovat, who said that as a professional organisation, OPRO would never engage in such conduct.
As interest in the story continued to grow, Dr Lovat was asked for his views on the brothers decision to wear mouthguards manufactured by his company on radio stations in New Zealand and even a TV programme joined in on the debate with Dr Lovat taking part in a live interview on a primetime programme.
Together with Richard Evans, Dr Lovat has recently held meetings with Freddie Tuilagi who acts as manager for both Alesana and Manu.
Dr Lovat was keen to pay both Alesana’s and Manu’s fines but, as these had already been settled, Dr Lovat has, on OPRO s behalf, made a donation to a Samoan boxing fundraising charity that the Tuilagi brothers support.
As a firm believer in the OPRO brand, Manu decided to continue wearing his mouthguard for the remainder of the England games in the World Cup tournament.
He said: ‘To be the best, I have to wear the best. It s as simple as that.’
However, in order to avoid further fines he coloured in the entire front of the mouthguard in black marker pen. Although this resulted in the mouthguard having a rather odd taste in his mouth, Manu was adamant that he could only give his best performance if he was wearing his OPRO.
He said: ‘My OPRO mouthguard is the most comfortable one I have ever worn and, because it stays so well in my mouth, it means I’m not even aware I have it in.’
This is the positive attitude that so impressed Dr Lovat who believes Manu’s enthusiasm for the OPRO brand will be mutually beneficial for both parties.