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Leicester Tigers to rebrand Welford Road

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers and long-standing official partner Mattioli Woods today announce a new five-year deal that will see the wealth management firm rebrand the stadium as Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

The move marks a first for the club – who have played in the same spot since moving to the ground back in 1892 – and is one that will play a huge role in supporting the future of the Leicester Tigers.

Mattioli Woods have been an official partner of the Tigers since 2016 supporting the club through shirt sponsorship and naming rights to the stadium’s East Stand.

The Covid-19 pandemic has the potential to see the club lose further millions in revenue over the coming months. The decision to rebrand the stadium is one that Tigers has not taken lightly owing to the significance Welford Road has in the hearts of supporters around the world.

Back in 2017, supporters and the club came together to celebrate 125 years of Welford Road, of which the north, east and west stand have all undergone major construction in the last twenty-five years taking capacity at the stadium to 25,849.

The decision to keep the ‘Welford Road’ name alongside the partnership is one that Mattioli Woods and the club felt was important, retaining the traditions of the club. This ‘club-first’ mentality echoes the shared values both organisations have in a move that can ensure Tigers remain at the heart of the city’s community.

The deal, which will run until the end of the 2024/25 season, includes stadium naming rights as well as branding around the team dugouts and externally around the venue. The company will also retain naming rights of the Mattioli Woods Stand as well as back of shirt sponsorship.

The two organisations became city centre neighbours in 2018 with Mattioli Woods moving its Leicester office to the top of Welford Road where they house 400 employees in the five-storey complex as part of the city’s regeneration project.

Over the years, the two businesses have worked together supporting the annual Rothley 10k run, organising stadium visits for schools, hosting networking events for local businesses as well as providing financial advice workshops.

A word from the CEOs…

As the club announced a historic moment with the rebrand of the home of Leicester Tigers to the Mattioli Woods Welford Road stadium, the chief executive officers of both organisations released the below statements.

Andrea Pinchen, chief executive officer at Leicester Tigers, said:

“Welford Road is an icon of world rugby as the home of Leicester Tigers and a venue that has helped to put Leicester on the sporting map.

“In these uncertain times, the club has had to look at new ways to provide value for supporters and partners in a way that can generate revenue and ensure that there is a club for fans to come back to.

“Mattioli Woods have been a partner of the club for many years, and whenever contractual rights are involved, we want to ensure that the traditions of the club remain a consideration.

“Having been such a loyal supporter of Tigers, we are extremely proud to unveil the Mattioli Woods Welford Road stadium signifying a partnership steeped in Leicester’s roots.

“Ian (Mattioli) is a close friend of the club and over the years, we’ve been grateful for his and the company’s support both financially as well as within the community.

“We understand it is a difficult time for every business at the moment, with sacrifices being made along the way, but the good times will return and I hope that this move symbolises the commitment of two Leicester businesses working through this together.”

Ian Mattioli, chief executive officer at Mattioli Woods said:

“Having been born and bred in Leicester, the Tigers have been a huge part of my life and I consider the club staff, players and supporters a part of the Mattioli Woods family.

“The COVID pandemic has impacted all of our lives, beyond anything we could have imagined. Personally, and as a business we have looked for ways to help the local communities where we have offices, supplying iPads to hospitals and other support where we can.

“Tigers have gone through tough times of late, as the majority of clubs have and so I am delighted that we are able to guarantee our support for the next five years. I am also proud the business I started in my garage in Leicester and employs so many local people both in Leicester and around the country, will be linked with this amazing club as Mattioli Woods Welford Road. Supporting our sporting clubs at this time is vital for our community.

“Sport breaks down barriers, it has the potential to reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing, and in these very testing times we are living in, it is important that families are still able to watch their beloved team and look forward to eventually being back in the stands.”

6 Nations

British & Irish Lions issue Tour Update

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The British & Irish Lions and SA Rugby have confirmed they are aligned on delivering the Castle Lager Lions Series in South Africa in the scheduled playing window.

The Lions Board confirmed its preference to SA Rugby on Monday evening, prior to follow-up meetings earlier today (Tuesday).

“After reviewing information relating to the various contingency scenarios being considered, I can confirm that the Board’s intended position is for the Tour to go ahead as scheduled in South Africa in 2021,” said Jason Leonard, chairman of The British & Irish Lions.

“We acknowledge that there is a significant amount of work still to be undertaken to deliver a robust COVID-19 countermeasure plan to ensure a successful, safe and uninterrupted Tour. SA Rugby will have our full support to help implement this plan.”

Mark Alexander, president of the SA Rugby, said he would inform the Executive Council of the South African Rugby Union of the alignment.

“We appreciate the Lions’ faith and share their desire to see a safe and successful tour,” said Alexander.

“We have been in regular contact with our government to make that a reality against the backdrop of the pandemic and its predicted progression over the coming months.

“There are serious financial implications for SA Rugby, should the event take place without any supporters in attendance, and we cannot ignore that in our considerations. But we are determined that the eventual outcome will deliver the best occasion and experience for players, supporters and our commercial partners.”

Alexander said the original tour schedule was subject to review because of those considerations. Should any changes be required they will be communicated as soon as possible.

Leonard added: “Every British and Irish player dreams of wearing the famous red jersey, and players from the southern hemisphere aspire to be part of a Lions series. We owe it to the current players vying for a place in both squads to ensure they can become part of Lions history.

“We are very much looking forward to taking on South Africa for what promises to be a highly-competitive Series against the reigning World Champions.”

Alexander thanked the Castle Lager Lions Series’ commercial partners as well as the British & Irish Lions and ticket holders for their patience during the extended period of uncertainty.

“As hosts and ‘owners’ of the Castle Lager Lions Series no one has been more affected or more challenged by the current circumstances than SA Rugby,” said Alexander. “However, with the support of our government and good planning we can navigate the pandemic to nonetheless create a most memorable event for players, fans and partners.”

It is not yet known whether international or cross-border travel for supporters will be possible into the country in July. Supporters who have purchased ticket-inclusive packages through Lions Rugby Travel will be notified directly via email with information on the options available.

The Lions remind supporters that all packages purchased through Lions Rugby Travel are protected by the Covid-19 guarantee*. Supporters who have booked packages with official sub agents should contact them directly. For the latest guidance on travelling to South Africa please visit the UK Foreign Office website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-africa or the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs website: https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/south-africa/

At this time, it also remains unclear whether spectators will be permitted into stadia in July and August. SA Rugby and the Lions continue to work with relevant South African Government departments to ascertain the latest guidance on COVID-19 countermeasure planning for major sporting events and will communicate any updates as soon as it is possible to do so.

In the event that spectators are not permitted to gain access to the Test matches, Lions supporters who had successfully purchased Test match tickets via the Lions ticket ballot will be refunded.

The British & Irish Lions Test match against Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June 2021 for the Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup will continue as scheduled. However, a decision on crowd size will be made nearer the time of the event and in line with the latest UK Government guidance. For more information, including ticketing enquiries, please visit:
https://www.lionsrugby.com/1888-cup-faqs/

The British & Irish Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891. In that time, the Lions have won four Test series, lost eight with one drawn. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.

*For more information please visit www.lionstour.com

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Rugby

Former Ulster star, Peter Nelson signs for French Club

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Getty Images - AFPCHRISTOPHE SIMON

Canada international and former Ulster player, Peter Nelson has signed with French PRO D2 side, Stade Aurillacois Cantal Auvergne on a 3-year deal.

Nelson spent 8 seasons with Ulster making 64 PRO14 appearances. In June 2019 Nelson joined up with the Canadian national team qualifying through his Grandmother who was born in Vancouver.

Nelson was part of the Canadian World Cup Squad making 3 appearance in RWC 2019 in Japan against Italy, New Zealand and South Africa.

In 2020, he signed with MRL side, Seawolwes in the USA to compete in the Major League of Rugby championship but unfortunately COVID-19 prevented any involvement.

Comfortable playing across the back 3 or at 10 or 12 he’s an astute signing for the PRO D2 Club. Nelson makes the move from French 3rd Division team Bourg en Bresse where he was brought in as a medical joker in September 2020.

Aurrilac has a long association with Ulster with with former Ulster Legend, Jeremy Davidson coaching the side for several years. Andre Bester former, Ballymena & Belfast Harlequins coach also had a stint with the Cantal Based Club.

Aurillac have had several Ulster-born players on their roster over the years including former Ulster Prop, Paddy McAllister, former Ulster winger, Conor Gaston and Ulster Underage Representatives, Charlie Simpson & Tim Small.

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Rugby

Wales name side for Scotland

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Photo by John Berry/Getty Images

Wales travel to Murrayfield on a six-day turnaround following their opening round success against Ireland.
Wales have named the same front-five that featured last weekend with Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis forming the front-row.

Adam Beard continues to partner captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second row.

Aaron Wainwright comes into the back row to line up alongside Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau. Both Josh Navidi and Josh Macleod are unavailable due to injury, with the latter originally selected to earn his first cap at blindside flanker before being ruled out.

Gareth Davies comes into the starting XV to partner Dan Biggar.

Nick Tompkins and Owen Watkin form a new-look midfield with Liam Williams returning to the side to line-up alongside Louis Rees-Zammit and Leigh Halfpenny.

“We were pleased to kick the tournament off with a victory last weekend and to be heading to Scotland with a win behind us.

“We continue to build and to move forward and it is great to do that from a position of winning.
“It is a quick six-day turnaround this week but we are looking forward to getting back out there.

“We have picked up a couple of injuries but we see it as more of an opportunity for those coming into the side.

“We have to feel extremely disappointed for Josh (Macleod) who we selected to start and to win his first cap only to be ruled out later that day through injury.”

Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones and Leon Brown provide the front-row cover for Wales with Will Rowlands and James Botham completing the forward contingent. Kieran Hardy, Callum Sheedy and Halaholo provide the back-line cover.

WALES TEAM TO PLAY SCOTLAND (SATURDAY FEBRUARY 13, KO 16.45)

1. Wyn Jones (31 Caps)

2. Ken Owens (78 Caps)

3. Tomas Francis (53 Caps)

4. Adam Beard (22 Caps)

5. Alun Wyn Jones (CAPT) (144 Caps)

6. Aaron Wainwright (27 Caps)

7. Justin Tipuric (81 Caps)

8. Taulupe Faletau (82 Caps)

9. Gareth Davies (58 Caps)

10. Dan Biggar (88 Caps)

11. Liam Williams (67 Caps)

12. Nick Tompkins (9 Caps)

13. Owen Watkin (26 Caps)

14. Louis Rees-Zammit (5 Caps)

15. Leigh Halfpenny (94 Caps)

Replacements:

16. Elliot Dee (33 Caps)

17. Rhodri Jones (18 Caps)

18. Leon Brown (13 Caps)

19. Will Rowlands (6 Caps)

20. James Botham (3 Caps)

21. Kieran Hardy (2 Caps)

22. Callum Sheedy (5 Caps)

23. Uilisi Halaholo (*Uncapped)

Players unavailable for selection:

Dan Lydiate (released), Josh Navidi, Josh Macleod, Tomos Williams, Johnny Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hallam Amos, Josh Adams.

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