MasterCard Inc. agreed to be one of the six main sponsors of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Dominic Rumbles, a spokesman for the International Rugby Board, announced the deal Monday but did not say how much the Purchase, N.Y., company paid.

It is the second company to become a so-called worldwide partner of the tournament, to be held in New Zealand, after Emirates Airline.

Visa Inc., which went public last year after nearly 40 years as an association owned by its member banks, had sponsored the Rugby World Cup since 1995. Its contract ended after the last tournament in 2007.

Antonio Lucio, Visa's global chief marketing officer, told American Banker last year that his company had decided the tournament was no longer worth the continued investment.

"Under the previous association model, if a couple of banks around the globe agreed to do something like that [sponsorship], we would just do it," Mr. Lucio said. "This time around we went through the process, and we decided that it was time to let it go because the returns were not going to be there, given the limited number of countries."

Three years ago Visa agreed to sponsor soccer's World Cup tournament, which MasterCard had sponsored since 1990.

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