RaboDirect to pull its sponsorship of Pro12

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THE Celtic nations and Italy are back on the hunt for a league sponsor after the RaboDirect bank revealed that it is to withdraw when its contract ends next summer.

The Dutch company took over from Magners Cider as the Celtic League sponsor two years ago and renamed the competition the RaboDirect PRO12. But, much as Magners said then, Tim Bicknell, the General Manager at RaboDirect, stated that the sponsorship had now served its purpose.

“The partnership with the PRO12 has helped us achieve key business objectives and has been extremely beneficial,” he stated, “especially in terms of developing and communicating our brand values, connecting with rugby fans and giving us a platform to reward our customers.

“Our commitment to the PRO12 will be the same this season, and we will continue to push the boundaries, innovate and bring our energy and expertise to the competition through a strong programme of activity.

“We are developing our business strategy for the next five years and the excellent results of this partnership has helped inform and influence our strategy for potential future partnerships.”

Sky TV are taking over as main broadcasters of the league in 2014 and it is believed that John Feehan, the Chief Executive of Celtic Rugby, and also the Six Nations CEO, is looking to bring in a new sponsor for a greater financial benefit across Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Italy as a result of the wider reach expected with Sky. He is understood to already have a clutch of potential replacements lined up with talks now able to be moved on with RaboDirect’s announcement.

Feehan said: “The competition has grown hugely over the last few years and this season is set to be even better. The launch [next week] will kick-start what we all expect will be another fascinating campaign.”