By Alan Dymock
IF FRENCH publication Midi Olympique is to be believed, the union of Premiership Rugby and Ligue Nationale de Rugby could soon be joining forces with Guinness.
The sports ‘paper insists that representatives of both clubs’ governing bodies swooped into Dublin this week to have tentative discussions with the Diageo-owned stout brand about sponsoring the proposed Rugby Champions Cup that could replace the current format of the Heineken Cup.
While representatives of PRL and LNR still refuse to sit with European Rugby Cup and their mediator Graham Mew on the date set forward for ‘discussions’ leading to a possible accord, October 23, they have forged ahead with plans for the new competition, maintaining doubt over the other ERC member clubs’ European futures.
More so than this, with rumours circulating that television companies in France, England and even the middle east – with BT Sport being constantly linked with a potential tie-in – any huge sponsor coming in for the competition would make it nigh on impossible for the current format to be saved.
Guinness have previous experience in this particular market, having been the title sponsor for the Premiership from 2005 to 2010, and they have kept their hand in with being official drinks partner with home unions and lending their name to Ireland’s upcoming autumn Internationals at the Aviva Stadium.
Of course, if this does come off, maybe the good folks at Heineken would look at sponsoring the soon-to-be sponsor-less Pro12 who part company with RaboDirect at the end of this season.