Thursday, August 29, 2013

What Next for the Celtic League?

We’d like to welcome Brendan Grehan back to HoR2 as he gives his take on Rabo’s early withdrawal from the Pro12…

Rugby Opinion

LAST Week it was interesting to see the positive spin being put on the news that RaboDirect are pulling the plug on their sponsorship of the Celtic League.

I always thought it was curious why the Dutch company chose to sponsor the league in the first place given that they only have a presence in Ireland and not in the three other member countries. In a curious parallel with German sportswear firm, Puma, who exited from their gear deal from the IRFU one year early, RaboDirect are also returning to the land of canals, dykes and jazz cigarettes 12 months ahead of schedule.

Though the Celtic League has always been the European Cup's ugly sister, it has established itself as a competition of note.

And Ireland is the market where it has flourished. All those inter-provincial rivalries over the last decade has left their mark on the competition. One thinks in particular of all those Leinster-Munster match ups in Lansdowne, the RDS and Thomond.

To be honest it made sense for RaboDirect to bid adieu to the Celtic League given that the bank’s market is Ireland.

In a statement, Tim Bicknell, General Manager at RaboDirect said "key business objectives have been achieved".

He added: “The partnership with the PRO12 has helped us achieve key business objectives and has been extremely beneficial, 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."

As the domestic rugby season starts to wheeze up again, RaboDirect could be the perfect partner for the game on these shores.

It will be interesting to see what sporting activities the Dutch will choose to sponsor.

And what will become of the Celtic League. Will Sky swoop down like a deus ex machina and come to the rescue given that they are due to screen 33 matches a season in a four-year deal from next season.

With all the kerfuffle about the alcohol sponsorship, the drinks companies may choose to keep their distance from the oval ball.

So it will probably be a big financial institution. You can't beat the old reliables.

Brendan Grehan is a Journalist.

twitter: @brendanxavier

Facebook: Brendan Grehan

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