EDF, the global energy supplier, has extended its sponsorship of European club rugby's two leading tournaments, the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup.
Tournament organisers ERC have agreed a four-year extension to their deal with EDF, which will see the partnership run through to the end of the 2012/2013 season with EDF continuing to gain exposure across Europe.
ERC Chairman Jean-Pierre Lux welcomed the news saying: "ERC has greatly valued EDF's partnership over the past four seasons and we look forward to extending our relationship as we work together to ensure European rugby continues to thrive."
Dominique Lagarde, EDF Chief HR and Communications Officer, said: "For EDF Group and its subsidiaries, ERC obviously represents a powerful communication platform to generate positive brand exposure and to organise quality hospitality programmes in our key European markets. But beyond that, EDF wishes to use this partnership to promote the change of behaviours in terms of energy usage."
Commenting on the extension, ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath said: "This is the latest piece of positive commercial news for European rugby this season and we are delighted that EDF have decided to commit to a further four years with our tournaments.
"The Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup offer an excellent promotional platform for the right brands and organisations and we strive to create real partnerships with our family of sponsors around these events. Today's extension re-enforces the benefits of this approach for all stakeholders."
The EDF extension follows recent commercial announcements this season that saw title sponsors Heineken extend their relationship with the ERC and Heineken Cup through to 2013 and, in the broadcast sector, Sky Sports extend to 2014.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.