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Aer Lingus extends backing of Irish Rugby Football Union

The Irish Rugby Football Union has renewed its sponsorship agreement with domestic airline Aer Lingus.

The new three-year deal will run until 2021, with Aer Lingus to retain its position as the body’s official airline.

Aer Lingus first partnered with the IRFU in 2015 and has since flown the Irish national team to a number of overseas matches.

Dara McMahon, Aer Lingus marketing director, said: “The team’s success on the pitch has been reflected by the success of the sponsorship off it, having been recognised independently on multiple occasions, culminating in being awarded the Sponsorship of the Year at the Irish Sponsorship Awards in 2017.

“Irish Rugby has become an integral part of our overall marketing campaign, Smart Flies Aer Lingus, while our rugby-specific ‘Home Advantage’ campaign has proved to be very successful.”

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The partnership is understood to be a three-season deal, from 2019-20 to 2021-22, and builds on AXA’s existing Global Partner agreement with Liverpool.

The deal is the largest ever sponsorship investment in UK women’s sport and comes less than a year after the league went fully professional in September 2018.

Under the five-year global deal, Oppo will become the first Official Smartphone Partner of The Championships, Wimbledon, as the event is officially known.

US sportswear brand Nike is paying about $7.5m (€6.7m) per year to sponsor China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL), according to industry sources.