Bill Beaumont and Agustín Pichot have been elected World Rugby Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, on an historic day for the international federation in Dublin.

The pair, who stood unopposed, were unanimously voted in by members of World Rugby's Council in accordance with the bye-laws at its annual meeting. Both World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees, the pair will succeed Chairman Bernard Lapasset and Vice-Chairman Oregan Hoskins, who previously announced they would not seek re-election.

The election comes on an historic day that ushered in the implementation of expanded union and regional association representation on Council and the appointment of two independent directors to the federation's Executive Committee.

RFU and Six Nations Rugby chairman Beaumont, has also been central to World Rugby's decision-making bodies for more than a decade, served as Vice-Chairman from 2007 to 2012, and has been a key figure on the World Rugby Council, Executive Committee, Rugby World Cup Board and Rugby Committee bodies. As RFU chairman, Beaumont presided over the delivery of what will be remembered as the biggest and best Rugby World Cup to date.

He was also a decorated player, making his debut for England in 1975 going on to win 34 caps and leading England to their first Grand Slam for 33 years in 1980. Beaumont also played for the British and Irish Lions and later accompanied them as tour manager for the tour to New Zealand in 2005.

Beaumont said: "I am honoured to accept the mandate of Council to serve as World Rugby chairman at what is an exciting and pivotal time for the sport. Rugby has experienced significant and rapid growth, which is a credit to Bernard Lapasset and his leadership over the past eight years.

"The sport is in excellent health and over the next four years there will be many great opportunities to further develop and grow the game. However, we cannot be complacent. The game still faces challenges and my manifesto outlines the five priorities focused on addressing these. These priorities are continuing to protect players, preserving integrity, enhancing global competition, optimising partnerships and empowering and strengthening unions.

"I will nurture the roots of rugby, our fundamental values and financial security and will make rugby decisions for rugby reasons. As World Rugby Chairman, I will work with unions over the next four years to deliver healthy, sustainable growth for the game we all love."

With rugby experiencing unprecedented growth in new and emerging markets, Pichot's election represents the first time that an Argentinian has served as Vice-Chairman and is a significant and proud moment for rugby in South America.

As President of Rugby Americas, a former captain of Argentina's 15s (71 caps between 1995 and 2007, 28 as captain) and sevens teams and bronze medal winner at Rugby World Cup 2007, Pichot has been a driving force behind the rugby development of Argentina and South America on and off the field. Achievements include The Rugby Championship inclusion, Americas Rugby Championship establishment and the introduction of an Argentinian team in Super Rugby.

Pichot said: "I am honoured and excited to have been elected Vice-Chairman at what is an extremely exciting time for the growth and development of rugby and I would like to thank my Council colleagues and friends for their support and confidence.

"I look forward to working alongside Bill, with the support of the new-look Council and EXCO to serve rugby at all levels, promote inclusivity and equality and ensure that our great sport can continue its record growth into new and emerging rugby nations around the world."

Outgoing Chairman Lapasset added: "Rugby is in great shape around the world and I am proud that I vacate the position after eight wonderful years, during which we have achieved record participation, increased interest and engagement, Olympic inclusion and record-breaking Rugby World Cups.

"I leave with a dynamic new governance model implemented and I am delighted that my colleague and friend, Bill Beaumont, with a clear vision and strong passion for the global development of rugby, will drive the game into this exciting period. The future is very bright for our sport with the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and a ground-breaking Rugby World Cup in Japan all major milestones before the end of this decade.

"I would like to thank all my colleagues on Council, EXCO, the unions, the World Rugby executive and of course all members of the global rugby family, including players and fans, for their passion, dedication and support during my time as Chairman. It has been an incredible journey."

Bath Rugby is delighted to announce the renewal of its long-standing partnership with Thatchers Cider.

Like Bath Rugby, the fourth-generation cider makers are part of Somerset's much loved heritage. Thatchers are ingrained in the Club's matchday experience, and the renewed partnership will see an increase in the brand's presence at the Recreation Ground – one that already includes the Thatchers Stand – whilst the logo will continue to be emblazoned on the back of the match jerseys.

Commenting on the partnership, Tarquin McDonald, Managing Director of Bath Rugby, said: "Our relationship with Thatchers is one that we're very proud of, so we are thrilled to be continuing our association with them. Thatchers play a significant role in the Club and nowhere is that more evident than at the Rec on matchday, where many of our supporters love watching the rugby with a great pint of cider."

Martin Thatcher, fourth-generation cidermaker and Managing Director of the family-run company, added: "Being a supporter and partner of Bath Rugby is a privilege. We share similar values and have made many good friends within the Club. We are delighted to be continuing our partnership into next season."

Thatchers will be hosting a special matchday sampling of their new cloudy cider Thatchers Haze on the outfield at the Rec on Saturday 7th May, as Bath take on Leicester Tigers in their final game of the season.

Image: Exeter Rugby Club/Pinnac;le Photo Agency. 

Exeter Chiefs and Samurai Sportswear are predicting a bright future ahead after today agreeing a new long-term contract.

The five-year deal will see the Norfolk-based sportswear manufacturer continue to supply the Aviva Premiership club with its innovative range of playing kit and off-field leisurewear, as well as providing an extensive range of kit and clothing for the club's support base.

The partnership, which was first signed in 2010 before the Chiefs were promoted into English rugby's top flight, is the joint longest of its type in the Premiership, with both parties sustaining growth and considerable success in the years that have followed.

Founded in 1996 by current Managing Director, Terry Sands, Samurai is renowned for producing custom made rugby kits, including its advanced ICONIX shirt created using an exclusive 4D Performex fabric to offer the ultimate levels of comfort and performance.

Liaising closely with Chiefs players and staff, work has already commenced on the design of new match and training kit for the 2016/17 season, all of which will be available ahead of next season's Premiership and European campaigns.

Welcoming the new deal, Exeter Rugby Club chief executive, Tony Rowe OBE, said: "As a club we're very happy to be continuing our working relationship with Samurai, who have been with us ever since we broke into the Premiership and Europe and have joined in our success of recent years.

"Making sure we provide our players with the best kit the market can offer is important to ensure they can maximise their performance on the pitch and continue to help build the Exeter Chiefs brand off it.

"The last six years has been an incredible success story for the club and for Samurai and we will both continue to work hard to ensure the future is just as prosperous."

It's a view echoed by Terry Sands, who added: "We are honoured that Exeter Chiefs have chosen to extend their partnership with us. We have a great working relationship with everyone at the club and they continue to set the standards for other clubs to aspire to.

"The Chiefs are an established Premiership club with a burning ambition to be continual top four contenders and a real force in Europe. The club's focus on development makes them the perfect fit for the Samurai brand and we look forward to seeing our logo on their kits for many years."

 

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has announced a partnership with Mitsubishi Motors, who will become an Official Partner of England Rugby from the start of the 2016/17 season.

The long-term relationship will see the Mitsubishi Motors logo feature on the front of next season's England U18 and U20 playing and training kits.

Mitsubishi Motors to become Title Partner of Exeter leg of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series

The agreement will also extend to Title Partnership of the Exeter leg of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series, taking place at Sandy Park in July 2016, which will become the Mitsubishi Motors Exeter Sevens. The Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series 2016 is a three leg Series comprising Tournaments in Moscow and Gdynia, after which the winning team will be crowned European Champions. For 2016 only, England and Wales will be replaced by two teams from Great Britain who will use the Series as part of their final preparations for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Commenting on the partnership, RFU Chief Executive, Ian Ritchie, said: "We are thrilled to confirm Mitsubishi Motors as an Official Partner of the RFU.

"As a globally recognised brand with strong heritage in innovation and high quality performance, Mitsubishi Motors is a great fit for the RFU.

"We look forward to the exciting initiatives that we will work on together throughout the partnership."

Lance Bradley, Managing Director, Mitsubishi Motors UK, added:

"Mitsubishi Motors is delighted to become an Official Partner for the Rugby Football Union from September 2016, supporting the England under 18s, the under 20s squad and the Mitsubishi Motors Exeter Sevens.

"It's not only great news for us, but for our dealer network, our customers, and all rugby followers. The ethos and values of the game align perfectly with our own and the partnership announcement comes as a natural development of the work we are doing, and have already done to support some of the UK's leading rugby clubs and players."

Thu 31st March 16 :

BLK fit for four more years

The world #1 NZ Kiwis will wear BLK jerseys into next year's Rugby League World Cup campaign and beyond.

New Zealand Rugby League has confirmed a renewed four-year contract with the global sports apparel company that ends on December 31, 2019. The agreement will also cover the Kiwi Ferns women and Junior Kiwis programme. The Kiwis men have worn the BLK (Beyond Limits Known) brand since 2012.

"We're proud to continue our sponsorship of the world's top-ranked New Zealand national rugby league team," says BLK chief executive Tyron Brant.

"The Kiwis have a very clear strategy on how they want to lift their profile and BLK is excited to be part of that
journey."

In recent years, BLK and NZRL have produced an exciting range of merchandise for Kiwis fans around the world, and 2016 will be no different.

The latest offerings will be officially launched next month, as the Kiwis prepare to defend the Bill Kelly Cup and world #1 billing against Australia in Newcastle, May 6.

"Their unique team culture makes our Kiwis one of the iconic brands in New Zealand sport," says NZRL commercial general manager Sarah Lewis.

"BLK has certainly helped us extend that design footprint internationally by bringing our culture to life with its distinct and innovative garments.

"The World Cup offers a great opportunity to develop that identity even more. We're sure our passionate fans will find something in the next BLK release that will make it easy for them to show support for their team, whether that's by wearing a replica jersey at our games or our styled casual gear away from the stadium."

The British & Irish Lions and Thomas Pink have renewed their partnership for the 2017 Tour to New Zealand, it has been announced.

Thomas Pink – the Modern British shirtmaker – will once again provide the best players from the Home Nations with official outfits for the tour, including the iconic blazer and tie and the brand's game-changing Athletic Fit shirt.

For the 2017 Lions Tour retail collection, Thomas Pink will design a full range of formal and casual outfits. The range will ensure fans are as stylish as The British & Irish Lions themselves, offering a collection delivered with style and verve.

The Thomas Pink Lions collection will retail from October 2016.

To mark this, the brand will launch its very own tongue-in-cheek rugby club, captained by one of the all-time Lions' greats and incorporating consumer events, an online content hub and monthly newsletters.

The 2017 British & Irish Lions wardrobe features an official Tour blazer and evening jacket – "No. 1s and No.2s" in Lions' speak – as well as selection of casualwear for downtime between matches, training, travel and official functions.

Commenting on the renewed partnership, British & Irish Lions Chief Operating Officer Charlie McEwen said: "We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Thomas Pink. The 2013 squad were superbly dressed as befits the Lions and we have no doubt that the 2017 touring party will be equally well tailored in line with Thomas Pink's tradition of quality and workmanship."

Jonathan Heilbron, President and CEO of Thomas Pink said: "We are delighted to be involved with the British & Irish Lions once again. Our last collaboration was a huge success and we take great pride in dressing such outstanding rugby players, while our new casual rugby range will ensure the fans are as stylish as the players.

"When our Lions' collection launches in October, fans will also be able to join Thomas Pink's own rugby club, captained by a Lions' legend."

Rugby Expo has today confirmed its renewed partnership with the Association of Rugby Agents (ARA) and Agents Review Board (ARB), which will see the Home Unions Agents Annual Seminar held at the event for the third year running.

Today's announcement also confirms the ongoing support to Rugby Expo from the RFU who, alongside the WRU, IRFU, RPA, IRUPA, Premiership Rugby and English Championship, work in partnership with the ARA to deliver the seminar. Continuing the longstanding partnership with Rugby Expo, the RFU will work closely with the event for 2016 ahead of its debut at the Ricoh Arena on 03-04 November.

The Annual Seminar, which brings together all registered agents and wider stakeholders responsible for the management and wellbeing of professional rugby players, will take place on the morning of the professional game-focused day one of Rugby Expo (03 November); all attendees will then be given full access to both days of the event.

Commenting on today's announcement, Jonathan Wilson, Rugby Expo event director, said: "We are delighted to renew our partnership with the ARA; the annual seminar is a key date in the organisation's calendar and is attended by all registered agents and board members as well as other rugby stakeholders.

"It is the third year that Rugby Expo will have all registered players' agents in attendance and the ARB's decision to move its seminar to the Ricoh Arena demonstrates the strength and value of the partnership. The opportunity for our event's exhibitors and delegates to meet and engage with the individuals and companies that work closely with the sport's professionals is another reason why Rugby Expo maintains its position as the meeting place for those in the sport of club rugby."

Rob Andrew MBE, professional rugby director at the RFU, said: "This will be the third year that we have hosted the Agents Seminar at Rugby Expo and the move to the Ricoh Arena provides us with a great opportunity to deliver the event at another fantastic venue, and one that is so easily accessible for our members and stakeholders.

"The Agents Seminar continues to provide an ideal platform for bringing together agents, clubs, home unions and stakeholders in a forum designed to focus on the business and development of rugby; education, communication and awareness of important issues is the key to the success of our sport and the presence of the Agents Seminar at Rugby Expo provides a great forum for facilitating this."

Mark Spoors, ARA chairman, added: "We have had fantastic feedback from our members following last year's Agents Seminar at Rugby Expo so it is great to be able to confirm our partnership again with the 2016 event. The Ricoh Arena is ideally-located in the centre of the country and a fantastic venue for us to invite our members and wider stakeholders to.

"Rugby Expo continues to provide our members with a wealth of information and contacts within rugby and the wider sports industry and it is a fantastic way for us to help to maximise their ARA membership further."

For more information on attending Rugby Expo, contact Jenny Forbes, head of business development, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on +44 (0) 843 289 0583. Alternatively click here to register your interest.

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced today that Falken Tyres are the new Official Tyre Partner of the Qantas Wallabies.

Falken will have signage rights at domestic Test match venues, starting with the highly anticipated three-Test England Series which kicks off at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on 11 June.

ARU CEO Bill Pulver said: "We are thrilled to welcome Falken, a global high performance brand, as a valued partner of the ARU."

"It's a very exciting period for the Qantas Wallabies, with the England Series, The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Tests coming up on home soil this year. We are looking forward to working with Falken as they activate their partnership with us."

ARU General Manager – Commercial, John Nicholl said: "It's great to welcome an organisation like Falken into our partnerships family. As they continue to strengthen their brand position in the Australian market, I am sure we will enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship."

The partnership also extends to City Discount Tyres, which is operated by Sumitomo Rubber – the parent company of Falken Tyres.

Director & Executive General Manager of Falken, Koji Aoyama said: "We're delighted to partner with the Wallabies as they're a team that embody the spirit of Australia. The Wallabies have such an iconic brand and we're honoured to be associated with them."

Managing Director of Falken, Kenichi Furuhama, added: "When you look at the Wallabies' values – passion, integrity, solidarity, respect and discipline – they share so much common ground with us."

"Our goal is to be the most respected tyre brand in Australia, and with this partnership we hope to achieve this. Falken has been in Australia for decades as a major player in the tyre industry and we're now transforming ourselves to be a truly global brand."

Thu 10th March 16 :

Wasps welcome Fitbit

Wasps have today announced a partnership with Fitbit, the leader in the connected health and fitness market, as the club's Official Wearable Technology Partner.

With industry-leading fitness trackers, impactful data and virtual coaching, Fitbit helps athletes, coaches and consumers train more effectively and reach their performance and fitness goals at any level.

Fitbit will work closely with Wasps, supplying their devices to the senior and academy squads and provide coaches with a comprehensive data management dashboard to further develop and enhance their performance, whilst ensuring personal goals are being achieved.

Wasps' Group Commercial Director, Luke Organ, said: "This is another step in Wasps' ambition to work alongside global brands which successfully push the boundaries and are leaders in their respective fields.

"We are extremely excited about our partnership with Fitbit, which will create a platform to further improve our ability to deliver live analytics and provide clear visualisation of players' physical performance and development.

"We are continuously exploring ways in which we can develop our performance as a team and as a business, through the latest technology. In-stadia research is underway to establish further opportunities to engage and track customer insight in order to enhance fans' match day experience. We look forward to working with Fitbit, who join a strong portfolio of brands who will help us achieve these goals.

"By supporting a team such as Wasps, Fitbit devices and data will provide an enhanced training experience for players and coaches alike, enabling them to access deeper data insights to help refine training plans," said Gareth Jones, VP and General Manager for Fitbit EMEA.

"Because our trackers are designed to be worn all day, not just on the field, monitoring key data such as continuous heart rate, resting heart rate and sleep patterns is now much easier. Via the app and dashboard, Fitbit devices deliver a powerful set of data that can help Wasps make smart training decisions and push team performance harder; we're excited to see the results."

The UK's number one selling Alcoholic Ginger Beer, Crabbie's is to be an official partner of Scottish Rugby until the end of the 2017 season.

The agreement begins immediately, and will see Crabbie's have a sponsorship package and pouring rights at BT Murrayfield, starting with the RBS 6 Nations match versus France on Sunday.

Crabbie's will also benefit from sponsorship of the 1872 Scottish Cup trophy and branding rights at both Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors for the duration of the 2016/17 season

The alcoholic ginger beer brand will capitalise on a marketing campaign, including naming, pouring, sampling and hospitality rights and will use the partnership to support trade sales and brand visibility around key rugby occasions with consumers in the on and off trade.

Crabbie's was established in 1801, when Crabbie's Ginger Wine was originally produced in Leith, Edinburgh by John Crabbie & Co. Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer is the number one selling brand in the category and is no stranger to high profile sponsorships, including the recent return of Channel 4's TFI Friday, title partner of the World's Greatest Steeplechase, The Crabbie's Grand National and sponsorship of Hibernian F.C.

Halewood International Marketing Controller, Claire Kelly, said:

"We are thrilled to become an official partner of Scottish Rugby. We're very proud of our Scottish heritage and we are excited to bring the Crabbie's brand to the devoted and passionate fan base. The partnership gives Crabbie's a new platform to showcase our product to consumers, both at home and internationally."

Toni Blackhurst, Head of Marketing and Sponsorship at Scottish Rugby, said:

"We are delighted to announce this partnership with a brand with so much heritage and history in Scotland. We believe that this relationship will be a win-win in enhancing our matchday offering for fans and we look forward to a successful partnership between Scottish Rugby and Crabbie's."