Heineken Cup sponsorship extended to 2013
December 2, 2008
ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath has hailed the new deal as a great credit to the Heineken Cup's success © Getty Images
European Rugby Cup (ERC) have agreed an improved four-year deal with sponsors Heineken, meaning that the Heineken Cup will retain its title sponsor until the end of the 2012-13 season and the brewers have increased their investment in the European club game.
The Heineken Cup returns to action this weekend with Stade Francais set to break the competition's attendance record, having sold over 65,000 advance tickets for their home tie with Harlequins.
In past seasons the Heineken Cup has provided many moments of grandeur and high drama, for example Munster's cathartic win in the 2006 final, the Scarlets' unfathomable comeback against Toulouse in December that year or Rob Howley's last-minute try at the expense of Clement Poitrenaud in the 2004 final, and ERC Chairman Jean-Pierre Lux said: "The partnership between ERC and Heineken has grown to be something very, very special in rugby union. With the support of Heineken we have nurtured the Heineken Cup and created a tournament which has earned the respect and admiration of the rugby playing world."
ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath thanked those responsible for the tournament's success, including the many fans who have taken it to their heart: "The partnership has been central to the success of the Heineken Cup tournament over the past 14 seasons and today's announcement reflects great credit on all of the tournament's stakeholders.
"The elite players and clubs across Europe, Club bodies, Unions, match officials, international broadcasters and media, together with our commercial partners and of course the millions of fans who have all combined to create a unique European rugby experience.
"Heineken has been central to this partnership from the opening game and their commitment, together with that of our other stakeholders, will ensure the tournament continues to thrive and grow in the seasons ahead."
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales' lessons to learn in defeat by New Zealand are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic