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Ravens gain new sponsors

By Niall Crozier

The CD Group – Ireland's biggest car parts distributors – are the Ravens new sponsors.

The Ravens, Ulster Rugby's second string, compete in the British and Irish Cup as well as the inter-provincial series against their Leinster, Munster and Connacht counterparts. Under the new two-year deal, the Ravens' shirts will bear the CD Group logo, which will also be displayed at Ravenhill until the summer of 2015.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the CD Group, whose head office is at Mallusk. In addition, they have bases in Dublin and Cork.

Ken Knox, the sponsors' managing director, said: "The CD Group was started in Belfast in 1963 and has remained in the Knox family throughout the past 50 years.

"We are very proud of our heritage and are thrilled to forge this relationship with Ulster Rugby at such an exciting stage in their development."

Phillip Polack, Ulster Rugby's business development manager, said: "We are proud to announce this partnership.

"The CD Group and Ulster Rugby make a great fit as both are leaders within our respective industries and are focused on working together to achieve common business objectives."

* Australia back James O'Connor has accepted an early release from the final year of his ARU contract.

The decision follows his latest off-field indiscretion, which saw him thrown out of a Perth airport just hours after playing in the Wallabies' one-point victory over Argentina last month. O'Connor is yet to secure a Super Rugby contract for next season after he was let go by the Melbourne Rebels.

"As a professional, I am focused in developing as a person and as an athlete and intend to do everything possible to put myself in the best environment to do that," said O'Connor.

"I want to apologise for any issues that I have caused and I want express my respect for my teammates, the Wallabies and the jumper. There is nothing more important and rewarding to me than representing my country."

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