The Welsh Rugby Union has signed a major four-year sponsorship deal with the Cardiff-based leading drinks and hospitality business SA Brain and Company Ltd that will see them become the 'Official Sponsor of the Welsh National Rugby Team' and the 'Official Ale of the Welsh Rugby Union'.
The deal, which kicks-off next month, will see the new-look Welsh rugby jersey carry the word 'Brains' and the famous Brains dragon across the chest. The Welsh team will wear the new kit for the first time in the first of four Autumn Tests when the Springboks return to the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, 6 November.
Brains will become the third company to have their brand name emblazoned on the Welsh kit - and the first Welsh company. The previous two sponsors were Redstone and Rockport.
'This is a great deal for Welsh rugby and a very happy commercial marriage for the WRU. After all, the two companies have been working hand-in-hand for almost 125 years,' said WRU Group Chief Executive David Moffett.
'The WRU was founded in 1881 and Brains a year later. And when Cardiff Arms Park became the home of Welsh rugby after our first international there in 1884, no doubt a few pints of their now world renowned bitter and dark ales were sunk by players and supporters alike.
'We have co-habited within a drop-kick of each other ever since with Brains being brewed at their old brewery site in St Mary Street before they moved to their current home in Penarth Road about 1,000 metres down the River Taff from the Millennium Stadium. This is a perfect match for both of us.
'While we have been pleased and grateful to have been associated with our previous sponsors, the fact that we are linking with one of Wales' most high-profile companies is a real boost for us. Brains have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to Wales and Welsh sport and they are underlining that fact with this deal.
'I hope that this deal will point the way for more Welsh companies to get involved with Wales' national sport and give our game the chance to thrive on the international stage at both Regional and Test levels.
'Brains join forces with the Welsh National Team at a very exciting time. Performances at the 2003 Rugby World Cup suggested an upturn in fortunes and the side made further strides during the 2004 Six Nations campaign.
'Now, under the new coach Mike Ruddock, they are preparing to make further progress. Their 42-0 victory over a Barbarians side that three days later went on to comfortably beat an England XV at Twickenham was a real boost and Mike took with him a confident squad yesterday when they left for their three Test tour of Argentina and South Africa.
'When they return they will not only have nine great fixtures to look forward to in the 2004/2005 season, but also a new partnership with Brains. If they are successful, they might even get the chance to sample a drop of the sponsors' product.'
Wales will wear their newly designed Reebok kit, complete with Brains branding, for the first time against South Africa. They will then face Romania, New Zealand and Japan in the remaining Autumn fixtures.
The home fixtures in the 2005 RBS Six Nations Championship are the first and last matches, against England and Ireland, with trips to Scotland, Italy and France in between.
Chief executive of SA Brain & Co Ltd, Scott Waddington, said:
'What better fit is there for Wales' best loved beer brand than to be the sponsor of the national rugby team? A pint of Brains and a visit to a Brains pub has always gone hand in hand with international rugby in Wales. We know our customers are going to really enjoy the plans we have for developing our relationship with Welsh rugby.
'As well as the strong emotional connections between our two organisations, this deal also represents an excellent commercial opportunity for Brains. At Brains we are proud of our positive thinking and as part of our significant commitment to Welsh sport, we're confident that sponsorship of the WRU is set to bring significant benefits for both parties.
'We're at an exciting stage in the development of our company and of the famous Brains brand and are investing heavily in our products and pubs across the region. This deal couldn't have come at a better time for us and will help to boost our marketing activity to a whole new level,' he said.