Guinness is to become the new title sponsor of the Six Nations Championship. The brewer will replace NatWest, which took on a one-year agreement for 2018 following the termination of a 14-year sponsorship by parent Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
The Diageo-owned Irish brewer has secured the sponsorship for six years at a reduced rate. The Royal Bank of Scotland bowed out in 2016, unwilling to foot the £11m per year fee after it admitted that it is "not the global bank we once were."
The sponsorship reportedly went on the market with the initial asking price of £17m per year, which failed to attract any concrete offers. Last year, Natwest covered the Six nations paying a reported cut-price sum of £9m for the year.
Guinness will start at £6m for the 2019 tournament, almost half the price of RBS's deal. But the fee will increase for the duration of the six-year.
The move strengthens Guinness' commitment to rugby and adds to its current portfolio, which includes the Guinness PRO14, and partnerships with the four Home Unions and leading European clubs - Leinster and Munster - in addition to a new show with publisher Joe.
Commenting on the new partnership, Six Nations chief executive officer Benjamin Morel said: “We are absolutely delighted to enhance our long-standing relationship with Guinness and they will be a terrific title sponsor for Rugby’s greatest championship. Guinness are world leaders and our partnership between two great iconic brands will enable us to reach new audiences on a global scale.
“We could not be more excited to be working with the Guinness team over the coming years on developing new and innovative ways to connect with our fans and consumers.”
Diageo president for Europe, Turkey and India, John Kennedy added: “We are really looking forward to the start of the Guinness Six Nations in February 2019. Working with the Six Nations, we want to enhance both the Championship and the fan experience while using the partnership to encourage the adult fans watching, or attending, the games to drink responsibly.”