BT Sport has extended its support and investment into club rugby after agreeing a new sponsorship deal with the four Welsh Regions - the Blues, Scarlets, Ospreys and Dragons.
The new multi-million pound agreement over three years is the largest joint sponsorship in the history of the four Regions and signals an exciting future partnership ahead between the successful broadcaster and Welsh regional rugby.
The partnership will include a commitment to community development programmes in Wales that will see BT working closely with the Regions to link the Welsh national sport and its rugby role models with technology, education and community investment in sport.
The deal sees the BT Sport logo appear on three Welsh Regions' jerseys for the next three seasons; on the front of the home and away shirts to be worn by Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons and on the front of the Ospreys' home shirt and the back of their away kit, with the front of the Ospreys' away shirt already secured with another partner. As a key sponsor, BT Sport's brand will feature prominently in all the Welsh regions home grounds, within community activity and in regional rugby marketing materials.
And for the first time, the Cardiff Blues have agreed naming rights for their iconic home ground - now to be known as "BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park". The Cardiff Blues shirt sponsorship continues with Airbus Group (previously EADS), with BT Sport becoming kit sponsor to Cardiff Blues Women's Rugby.
BT Sport already sponsors Scottish clubs Edinburgh and Glasgow in the RaboDirect Pro12 and the latest expansion of the broadcaster's Celtic connections demonstrates its ongoing commitment to supporting the growth of club rugby in the UK. It has successfully broadcast this season's Aviva Premiership and will share coverage of the new European Rugby Champions Cup with Sky Sports in a landmark deal announced in March 2014.
Ann Beynon, Director Wales, BT said: "We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the four Regions and there are exciting times ahead as we embark on our new relationship with Welsh Rugby.
"Rugby is at the heart of BT Sport - we're excited to support Regional Rugby and its distinct and dynamic culture, with all it stands for in terms of strength, determination, daring, passion and skill.
"We respect and want to support the passion of the very knowledgeable Welsh rugby communities and applaud the positive and progressive work being done by Regional Rugby Wales (RRW) and those overseeing and working within the four Welsh Regions.
"BT will build on this exciting new partnership with the Welsh Regions to expand its support for communities across Wales, with the roll-out of our high speed fibre broadband set to make a real difference - particularly in rural areas. We'll see sport and technology working hand-in-hand."
Nine months after their launch, BT's free sports channels are being watched over five million homes. BT TV has topped 1m subscribers, and the consumer division has increased its revenues for the first time in a decade.
Mark Davies, Acting Chief Executive of Regional Rugby Wales, the body which represents the four Welsh Regions, said: "It's a time to celebrate the strides that the Welsh Regions are making to take the game forward in Wales with real unity, a common purpose, shared philosophy and commitment to ensuring that our businesses are sustainable.
"This is a clear vote of confidence in the Welsh Regions and we are delighted to be working alongside BT, a successful global brand that can see the real value in investing significantly in our Regional businesses, our 200 professional players and the rugby development structures we have in place.
"It's great to have positive news for Regional Rugby as we all now look forward to a new season, with a new European competition and greater challenges in our PRO12 domestic league."
The Four Welsh Regions have a collective turnover approaching £30m per annum, with a direct economic contribution to Wales in excess of £50m per annum. They provide employment for almost 1,000 people in a combination of full-time, part-time and casual roles including over 600 professional and semi-professional rugby players and more than 50 highly skilled coaching, conditioning and medical staff.
Cardiff Blues travel to Myreside on Friday to take on Edinburgh Rugby in a crucial Guinness PRO12 clash, and with Wales facing Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations at BT Murrayfield on Saturday, it promises to be a weekend of non-stop rugby action at the Scottish capital. Here are some useful advice to Cardiff Blues travelling supporters.
To celebrate the opening of the newly refurbished Guinness PRO12 Pack Bar, the world famous Irish brewer will be offering supporters free pints of the black stuff ahead of Saturday's clash with Ulster.
'TACKLE' - the first-ever joint community rugby initiative between the four professional teams in Wales has been launched (today Weds 19th October) bringing an inspiring new rugby education programme to young people in Communities First areas. Partners in the project were joined by Wales' star rugby internationals Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets) and Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), for the launch at Aberdare Community School.
The Welsh Rugby Union, together with Pro Rugby Wales, has secured significantly improved insurance cover for all registered players, coaches and referees at each of its member clubs and regions at reduced costs -working with Aon, one of the world's largest insurance brokers and risk advisors.