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Guinness approached as Rugby Champions Cup sponsors – French report

Midi Olympique claims the Irish stout producers have been targeted as backers for the new competition.

The Heineken Cup looking worried about its future.
The Heineken Cup looking worried about its future.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

A REPORT IN French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique claims that delegates representing English and French clubs visited Dublin this week to speak with Guinness about sponsoring the proposed Rugby Champions Cup competition.

The article claims that the visiting party were in Ireland “to test the waters” with the stout brewing company, hoping to gauge Guinness’ levels of interest in sponsoring their new European venture. There is no indication whether the response was positive or negative.

As the English and French clubs apparently press on with their intentions to break away from the Heineken Cup and form the Rugby Champions Cup continue, getting a world-renowned sponsor such as Guinness on board would be a huge boost.

It does seem strange that they would turn to an Irish company for support, especially as Guinness are already sponsoring the Irish national team’s November internationals. However, the Dublin-based brewery does have links to the Premiership clubs, having sponsored the league from 2005 until 2010.

Midi Olympique’s report also mentions that the first steps have been taken to evaluate the level of interest in TV rights for the Rugby Champions Cup on the part of French broadcasters. The short update finishes on a contradictory note by stating that the possibility of a compromise and continuation of the Heineken Cup has resurfaced.

With the 2013/14 version of the glamorous European competition kicking off tonight, the focus returns to matters on the pitch, but the ERC stakeholders meeting scheduled for the 23rd of this month grows ever important. If the English and French clubs do find a powerful sponsor, plans for the Rugby Champions Cup would move closer to reality.

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Murray Kinsella

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