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.
Warren Gatland has confirmed he will be joining the fast approaching 50,000-strong crowd at Judgement Day III on Saturday to run the rule over potential Wales Rugby World Cup squad members in the competitive surrounds of the Millennium Stadium.
Cardiff Blues are hosting a special Open Evening this Wednesday night at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park to give prospective students and parents the chance to discover more about our new and exciting rugby education programme.
The players at Cardiff Blues will be hoping to play with some true Gallic flair for the rest of the Guinness PRO12 season - after the region teamed up with a successful French bistrot in the Welsh capital.
Cardiff Blues will be celebrating St David's Day when the region faces Edinburgh Rugby at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 12.45pm) - with hundreds of children invited as part of our Regional Schools Day.
Fine footwear retailer The Brogue Trader - one of the official sponsors of Cardiff Blues - is celebrating after being recognised by the British Footwear Association at its annual Footwear Industry Awards.
Battling Cardiff Blues produced a second half performance packed full of character and spirit to push Ulster Rugby all the way in an absorbing Guinness PRO12 encounter at a packed out Kingspan Stadium.