Ulster Rugby last night unveiled a record new sponsorship deal with kit supplier, Kukri.
The agreement, which could become the biggest kit deal in Irish club rugby history, runs in tandem with Ulster Rugby Chief Executive Shane Logan’s stated ambition to help the province develop into a leading force in world rugby.
Kukri, whose sponsorship of Ulster began two-and-a-half years ago at the start of the 2008/09 season, last night undertook to continue supplying the province’s kit until June 2014.
Given the current economic climate the deal represents a major coup for Ulster in general and, in particular, is a huge feather in the cap of their CEO in managing to persuade Kukri of the merits of committing to the biggest sponsorship deal yet negotiated with the Ravenhill club.
“Here at Ulster Rugby, we are absolutely delighted to be continuing our relationship with Kukri,” he said.
“The fact that even in the current climate we have been able to negotiate our largest ever sponsorship deal shows that Ulster Rugby really has something to offer.
“We’re absolutely confident about our product,” he added, citing “regular attendances of between 8,000 and 12,000 at Ravenhill, our Magners League and Heineken Cup matches broadcast around the world, marquee names within our squad and a rich vein of young talent coming through the ranks” as reasons which helped secure the deal.
“We’re ambitious and Kukri have bought into our vision to make Ulster a club capable of competing at the very highest level. It’s a journey we look forward to making with them.”
Logan highlighted Kukri’s status and proximity as he celebrated the new sponsorship agreement.
“They are an organisation with offices all over the world, but the fact that they have a base here in Northern Ireland and are working directly with us to create unique products, is a major plus for both us and our supporters.”
Logan admitted that the views of the Ulster squad had been sought as to how the kit should look and feel as they go hunting for tries.
“Our players have been allowed unprecedented input into the design and construction of their garments to ensure they have something they feel entirely comfortable in and confident wearing,” he explained.
“We’re all looking forward to continuing our partnership and working hard to maximise the benefits of for both Ulster Rugby and Kukri.”
Terry Jackson, Kukri Ireland General Manager, was equally upbeat about the new package.
“We are delighted to announce this new partnership,” he said.
“There is a massive buzz to Ulster Rugby at present — exciting stars at the top end such as Ruan Pienaar, Stephen Ferris and Johan Muller as well as some real great emerging talent in Craig Gilroy and Jamie Smith to name but two.
“As well as that there are plans for a fantastic stadium re-development and a very progressive feel to the whole province, so Kukri are proud as punch with this partnership.”
Explaining what the deal offers to sponsors he continued: “The Ulster Rugby partnership is a fundamental platform to the Kukri Ireland business and it compliments well our 18 partnerships with local rugby clubs.
“We will be launching an exciting and edgy new range of performance product next season, which has been developed hand in hand with the Ulster Rugby side, and this will be available via our many local retail partners in July 2011.”