New Zealand Rugby
All Blacks sign historic shirt sponsor deal - report
ESPN Staff
July 5, 2012
New Zealand perform the haka at Murrayfield, Scotland v New Zealand, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland, November 13, 2010
Will a sponsor's name soon adorn the world-famous All Blacks' playing strip? © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Steve Tew
Teams: New Zealand

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) has reportedly signed a five-year shirt sponsorship deal with American insurance company AIG.

The All Blacks' world-famous playing strip currently includes the logo of kit manufacturers adidas, the NZRU's principle sponsor and long-term commercial partner, and has previously included the Steinlager brand name on the sleeve with the front of the shirt long considered sacrosanct.

However, the New Zealand Herald reports that more than 100 years of tradition is set to end with the NZRU keen to leverage the economic power of the All Blacks brand and join the majority of their rivals in signing a lucrative shirt sponsor deal.

The NZRU has refused to confirm or deny the reports with chief executive Steve Tew commenting that they were looking at a number of "opportunities". "As is normal for our organisation, we are discussing opportunities with a number of potential sponsors across a range of categories," he said.

"Like any commercial organisation we are not able to discuss any of those details until both parties have reached agreement. But let's be clear adidas is our principal partner and that contract extends to 2019 and underpins rugby in this country."

AIG previously sponsored Premier League football giants Manchester United between 2006 and 2010 in a deal worth a reported £56.5m but more recently were high-profile victims of the global financial crisis and had to be bailed out by the United States government.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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