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.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
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Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
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England Head Coach Eddie Jones has made two changes to his side to play Australia in Saturday's final match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series at Twickenham Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2). Jonny May lines up on the left wing.