Zurich announce sponsorship for English premiership
July 26, 2000

The English Rugby Premiership will kick off on August 19 under a new name, The Zurich Premiership it was announced today.

Official confirmation of the new sponsorship deal for the top league came this afternoon with Zurich Financial Services, Allied Dunbar's parent company, taking over as the named sponsor of the league.

The new end of season competition will be known as the Zurich Championship and matches will continue to be broadcast live on Sky Sports throughout the 2000/2001 season culminating in the Zurich Championship Grand Final on May 12.

Nigel Wray, Chairman of ERP, said: "The new season sees the launch of a new tournament structure with Zurich's involvement in both the Zurich Premiership and the exciting end of league play-offs with the Zurich Championship.

"This is a significant commitment by Zurich and is recognition of the value that they put on English domestic rugby, arguably the most competitive and skilful domestic club league in Europe. Our supporters are in for a treat of fast and exciting rugby this season."

Sandy Leitch, Chief Executive of Zurich Financial Services UK Operations, commented: "We are delighted to initiate this new three year partnership with English rugby, building on the excellent start made by Allied Dunbar's sponsorship of the last three years.

"This sponsorship is an exciting first step for our plans to establish Zurich as one of the leading financial services brands in the UK market.

"Rugby has never been in better shape and in a position to challenge the Southern Hemisphere on the field. We look forward to working with the Premiership clubs to help create the best most competitive domestic league in the world."

The deal with Zurich is for three years but does not include the old Allied Dunbar Premiership Two, the clubs in which were given confirmation last week that they would be receiving £200,000 each from the RFU this season.

The money forms part of the original professional "Leicester" Agreement that ends next year.

The official Zurich Premiership season launch will be held at Twickenham on Thursday 17 August 2000, two days before the first round of matches.

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