Guinness has been announced as the new title sponsors of the English Premiership.
Premier Rugby has announced that it has signed a four-year agreement with Diageo Great Britain for GUINNESS beer to become the new title sponsors of the world's leading domestic rugby union competition.
The agreement is valued at over £20m, reflecting the growth of the top-flight club game in England. The Zurich Premiership will be renamed at the end of the current season and will become The GUINNESS Premiership for the start of the 2005/2006 season.
Jon Varney, commercial director at Premier Rugby said: "Our partnership with GUINNESS is an exciting one and we look forward to working together in the coming months. To have a global brand with the stature of GUINNESS on board is a ringing endorsement of the success and growth of Premiership rugby in England."
Nick Robinson, GUINNESS marketing director said: "We are delighted to have signed this agreement with Premier Rugby to become title sponsor of The GUINNESS Premiership, the world's leading domestic rugby union competition, in what is the number two sport in the UK.
"We have a long and happy association with rugby in the UK, and rugby fans will find us a dedicated and responsible sponsor with a passionate and genuine interest in the game. Our aim is to work with the clubs to build excitement around the games themselves to enhance the fans' experience as much as possible.
"Zurich have made a major contribution to rugby during their tenure as sponsor and it is our intention to build on the great work that they have already done."
Howard Thomas, chief executive of Premier Rugby said: "I am delighted that we have agreed this deal with GUINNESS and look forward to working with them to grow the club game in England still further. On a personal note, I would like to thank Zurich for their invaluable support over the past seven years and we will be working together to ensure their final season is one that their long term commitment to club rugby in England deserves."
The new agreement enhances and extends the long association between domestic and international rugby and the GUINNESS brand, including its current status as the Official Beer of the 2005 British & Irish Lions, its sponsorship of Sky Sports rugby broadcasting and principal sponsor of London Irish RFC.
Further details on the GUINNESS sponsorship agreement will be announced after the conclusion of the current Zurich Premiership season and after the 2005 British & Irish Lions have returned from New Zealand.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Monday evening saw Freddie Clarke in A League action against Exeter, Saturday saw him make his Aviva Premiership debut. And both games resulted in wins! Freddie spoke to GRTV after the 39-30 win over Sale.
Billy Burns will get the headlines for his 16 point haul, but it was a team of heroes who went to La Rochelle and fought like demons to secure a magnificent 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win on Saturday evening.
Gloucester Rugby welcome back scrum-halves Willi Heinz and Greig Laidlaw to the matchday squad as they make five changes to their starting line-up for Saturday evening's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final against Stade Rochelais.