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Ospreys to play at renamed Swansea.com Stadium

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Swansea City have announced a new naming rights partnership that will see the club’s home become the Swansea.com Stadium with immediate effect. 

The new 10-year agreement sees Swansea.com take over from Liberty Properties plc as the stadium’s title sponsor. The deal will see Swansea City and the Ospreys represent our city and region by stepping out to play at the Swansea.com Stadium.

Swansea.com is a trading company based in Swansea. It has several investments across different sectors including travel, hospitality, real estate and sports. Swansea.com is proud to be based in Swansea, employing local people in the city in which it invests, and has done for the last 30 years.

It is the latest chapter in the relationship between the two companies. Many of Swansea.com’s businesses have been involved with the club over the last two decades and more.

This began with the sponsorship of a stand at the Vetch Field in 1998, through to appearing on the front of the club’s shirt from 2001 to 2009, with Swansea.com itself holding that position from 2007 to 2009.

Pursuing a new naming rights partner has been looked into extensively since the club agreed a deal with Swansea Council to take on a 37-year lease for the stadium in February of 2018, with the aim of  growing the club commercially.

Relegation from the Premier League and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic added to the challenge of finding the right brand to align with the club and the stadium, which has been known as the Liberty Stadium since shortly after its opening in 2005.

There were a number of global businesses among the interested parties when it came to the naming rights for the stadium, including those within the travel, gambling and cryptocurrency sectors.

However, having elected to move towards a more local focus in our partnerships – including having Swansea University as front of shirt sponsor – the club opted to look at potential naming rights partners within our own city and community.

As a club, the decision to overhaul our commercial outlook and engage with local partners, sponsors and suppliers has proved to be a rewarding one; one which the club believes has future proofed Swansea City and the regional partners it is proud to be working with.

As a result of this desire to choose local, the large majority of businesses Swansea City currently has commercial relationships with operate within the South Wales area.

This has led to this new decade-long agreement with a prominent Swansea-based company in Swansea.com, which guarantees a seven-figure sum to the club and is of a longer tenure than the industry average for stadium naming rights deals; providing the club with additional financial security at a challenging time.

“I am delighted that we, as a club, are able to announce this naming rights deal for the stadium,” said Swansea City chief executive, Julian Winter.

“I am proud of the work we have done as a club when it comes to focusing on our local area and community.

“This football club prides itself on its place at the heart of the community it represents, and adding to our portfolio of local business sponsors and partners is another indicator of our commitment to our city.

“We welcome Swansea.com as our new naming rights partner, and we look forward to a successful period – on and off the pitch – over the next 10 years.”

“From a commercial point of view the main focus has been to drive the commercial longevity of the business and financially futureproof the football club,” said Swansea City’s head of commercial, Rebecca Edwards-Symmons.

“A key part of that has been to find a stadium naming rights partner whose values match our own, and a deal that represents a significant commitment and financial boost to the club following what has been a difficult time at all levels of the game amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“That we have been able to reach agreement with a Swansea-based company makes total sense for us as a football club, and aligns with our desire to accentuate the links we already have with numerous businesses and partners within our city and surrounding area.

“We look forward to what we hope will be a successful future with Swansea City playing at the Swansea.com Stadium.”

“It is an honour and privilege to continue our investment into Swansea City with this 10-year commitment through the stadium naming rights,” said Swansea.com’s group managing director Jacob Hughes.

With many of our businesses being based in Swansea, employing local people, we feel the opportunity to further our partnership with the club is amazing. Over the last 20 years the business has worked hard to invest in the city and its surrounding areas.”

Ospreys CEO, Nick Garcia added: “Competing in the United Rugby Championship and the Champions Cup takes the Ospreys and our supporters around the world, with matches in seven countries across two hemispheres.

“However, nothing makes us happier than hosting global rugby supporters and clubs, where they can meet our supporters and partners at our home in Swansea.  Swansea.com is a great brand that aligns with our roots and will be familiar to many of our supporters. 

“We’re delighted to have them as the new title partner of the stadium and look forward to working with them to build the best rugby matchday experience across the two competitions.”

Cllr Rob Stewart, leader of Swansea Council, said: “I’m delighted our stadium has a name that reflects our wonderful city and a company that has invested in Swansea and its people.

“This long-term commitment will ensure we continue to grow the relationship between the stadium, its football and rugby teams and the people of Swansea.”

Source – Ospreys Rugby

Champions Cup

Graham Rowntree Confirmed As Next Munster Head Coach

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Graham Rowntree will be promoted from Forwards Coach to the role of Head Coach from July 1, 2022.

Rowntree will commence the role of Head Coach at the start of the 2022/23 season after signing a two-year deal.

The former England prop made the move to Limerick in October 2019 on completion of his Rugby World Cup coaching duties with Georgia Rugby.

In his third season as Forwards Coach Graham and family have settled well into Limerick life, noting earlier this year, “I have made my thoughts about this club widely known throughout my time so far, and for me and my family it really has been an easy decision, a non-decision if truth be told.

“We’ve put down roots here and have no desire to move anywhere else.”

With an impressive coaching CV and vast experience, Rowntree previously held coaching roles with the British and Irish Lions, England Rugby, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers.

Working closely with the IRFU, the province will advance with next steps in securing the backroom team that will work with Graham from next season as Head Coach Johann van Graan, Senior Coach Stephen Larkham, and Defence Coach JP Ferreira depart the province at the end of June.

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented, “I would like to thank the Munster Professional Game Committee for their work and diligence during this process.

“It is important that Munster have someone who understands the unique history and culture of the club and has the experience to maximise the talent in the squad.

“Graham was very impressive throughout this process and demonstrated he has the capabilities to spearhead the next chapter of Munster Rugby.”

On confirmation of the promotion, Graham Rowntree added, “I am hugely honoured to be taking over the role of Head Coach for a club of this calibre, one that means so much to me and my family.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed every moment here and I fortunately get to work with an incredible group of staff and players who share a common goal each day in striving for success for this club.

“I’ve talked about our fantastic supporters before and again at the weekend we stepped off the bus to a huge red welcome in Exeter. Who doesn’t want to be part of that, that’s special!

“I believe we have the established structures in place with the resources and facilities to match and that it will be a smooth transition for the coaching ticket we assemble in ensuring continued development and success for this club.

“Before then I have a role to complete this season and working closely with Johann, Steve, and JP is the immediate focus and priority for now.”

Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan said, “Graham’s extensive coaching experience and knowledge for the game makes him the perfect candidate to lead this squad forward.

“With Graham stepping up at the start of the new season it will be a seamless and natural progression from the work that has been carried out to-date.

“For now, we will continue our focus on the remainder of this season with Graham supporting Johann and the coaching staff in achieving our goals.”

Munster Rugby Home Fixtures

Saturday, April 16

Champions Cup Round of 16: Munster v Exeter Chiefs, Thomond Park, 3pm; Buy tickets here

Friday, April 29

URC: Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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6 Nations

Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby

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Image Credit: London Irish

London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.

The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.

O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011. 

He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017. 

O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation. 

On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.

“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions. 

“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years. 

“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy. 

“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.

“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland. 

“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.

“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old. 

“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport. 

“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.

“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them. 

“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.

“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us. 

“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.

“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career. 

“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey. 

“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family. 

“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years. 

“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then. 

“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.

“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be. 

“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”

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URC

Ulster squad selected for Vodacom Bulls clash

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad to face Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday afternoon has been named.

Andrew Warwick will make his 150th appearance for the province as he has been named to start at loosehead prop and will be joined in the front row by Brad Roberts and Marty Moore. Iain Henderson comes into skipper the side at second row, and will partner fellow Irish international, Kieran Treadwell. Jordi Murphy and Nick Timoney come in to start at blindside and openside flanker, with Duane Vermeulen at the base of the scrum at Number Eight.

Mike Lowry is selected to start at full-back, with Ben Moxham and Ethan McIlroy named on the wings. Luke Marshall and James Hume will form the centre partnership while Ian Madigan and Nathan Doak make up the half-back pairing.

The Ulster coaching team has opted for a 6-2 split on the bench, with Tom Stewart, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Mick Kearney, Matty Rea and Marcus Rea selected as forward reinforcements. John Cooney and Stewart Moore provide the back line cover.

Ulster team to play Vodacom Bulls, United Rugby Championship Round 14, Saturday 2 April at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, 1pm kick-off (UK / IRE time), live on SuperSport, Premier Sports & URC TV:

(15-9) Mike Lowry, Ben Moxham, James Hume, Luke Marshall, Ethan McIlroy, Ian Madigan, Nathan Doak;

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Brad Roberts, Marty Moore, Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Mick Kearney, Matty Rea, John Cooney, Marcus Rea, Stewart Moore.  

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