The Rugby Football Union (RFU) will repackage and restructure its domestic cup competitions next season, in anticipation of naming a new title sponsor.
The sponsorship package should generate around £7.5m in a three-year deal covering the tournaments.
Tetley’s sponsorship of the Tetley’s Bitter Vase, Tetley’s Intermediate Cup and the Tetley’s Bitter Cup – rugby’s equivalent to the FA Cup – has expired.
The RFU is understood to be planning a fourth cup competition, provisionally titled the “Super Cup”, for grass-roots clubs. Bidding is set to start soon for the package.
Barclays, npower, and NTL have sounded out the RFU about sponsoring all four competitions. Allied Dunbar, whose sub-brand Zurich sponsors the Premiership, has also been tipped as a possible sponsor for the competitions.
It is understood each competition’s final will take place on the same day in April, perhaps on a staggered basis. The Tetley’s Bitter Cup final traditionally takes place in February.
Tetley will now be official beer supplier to the RFU.
The RFU gave no official comment on the changes, but a source says: “We want to revamp our sponsorship portfolio in line with the growing commercial value of international and club rugby.”
The England team’s success has increased rugby’s profile, especially with the ABC1s. The sport has around 9 million followers.
In March the RFU presented an eight-year plan to improve the sport’s image and make it more accessible.