The American leisure and footwear company Rockport is the new Welsh National Team shirt sponsor. The Â£1m deal will initially run for two years and will see the name Rockport feature on the National Team shirt.
This is the first of a number of sponsorship deals to be announced ahead of the 2002/2003 season, and the Welsh Rugby Union is delighted to formally unveil the company as its official shirt sponsor and leisure wear supplier.
In addition, Rockport will also produce an exclusive apparel range for the WRU which will be sold through the WRU retail outlets and other independent retailers in Wales. This exciting new range will include men's jeans, chinos, dress shorts, shirts, knitwear and casual jackets.
"The WRU and the national team are delighted to be associated which such an innovative and well established leisurewear company," said WRU chairman, Glanmor Griffiths.
"Coming at the start of the countdown to the 2003 Rugby World Cup, this deal is a real confidence booster for the Welsh players and I know they will be proud to wear the new kit for the first time in our Autumn Series of internationals in November and then the Six Nations Championship in the new year.
"These are tough times for professional sporting bodies and teams in the field of sponsorship. Our link with Rockport proves that Welsh rugby is still highly valued in the sporting world and we look forward to a long and successful partnership with them.
"This deal also strengthens our links with our official kit suppliers,Reebok, who are the parent company of Rockport. Reebok first became involved with Wales in 1996 and are currently half-way through their second four-year contract.
"Having relationships with such significant global companies as Reebok and Rockport is excellent news for Welsh rugby and provides vital revenue to our national game.
"By the time the second Reebok contract expires in 2004, the value of our official kit and official shirt sponsorship deals between 1996-2004 will have exceeded Â£10m. Those figures prove that Welsh rugby is still a powerful brand in rugby union."
As well as carrying a new name across the chest, the Welsh jersey for the 2002/2003 season will also have a new look. The home kit will be have a black collar and black piping on a traditional red shirt and black shorts, while the away strip will be black with a green collar and white shorts.
The new kit will be available from 24 October and will be used in the four Autumn Internationals that face Steve Hansen's men in November.
"The players are really excited by the new kit and are looking forward to wearing it for the first time in our Autumn series. With the Rugby World Cup only 14 months away, this new deal is a real boost for the whole squad," said Hansen.
Wales will play four games in November, starting with a clash with Romania at The Racecourse, Wrexham on 1 November. There are then three successive matches at the Millennium Stadium - against Fiji on 9 November, Canada on 16 November and New Zealand on 23 November.
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