The Melbourne Rebels have extended a kit sponsorship deal with commercial cleaning company ICS Service Solutions, while the Super Rugby club has been forced to defend a controversial new partnership with Thai Airways.
Major Partner ICS has agreed a one-year extension to its deal, covering the 2019 season. ICS will be upgraded to a position on the Rebels jersey, having featured on the playing shorts in 2018.
As a strong supporter of Victorian rugby through their commitment to local clubs, including the Melbourne Unicorns, the ICS renewal has been well received.
In contrast, the timing of the Thai Airways announcement has provoked widespread condemnation.
The Presenting Partner deal with the airline – majority owned by the Thai government – was made public amid widespread concern for Australian refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi, who this week appeared shackled in a Bangkok court, where he is fighting attempts to extradite him to his former home country Bahrain.
In a statement the Rebels said: “This commercial relationship with an airline is no way intended to be an endorsement for the breach of any individual’s rights or the actions of any government.
“We support the movement to #SaveHakeem and will use our new relationship with the airline to engage them directly.”