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Mobile company continues England sponsorship

Mobile phone company 02 has extended its sponsorship of English rugby union for a further four years, a...

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Mobile phone company 02 has extended its sponsorship of English rugby union for a further four years, a vote of confidence in the national team as they try to rebuild following a traumatic World Cup last year.

02, owned by Spain's Telefonica, has been sponsoring the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) since the game went professional in 1995.

This latest partnership will extend beyond the 2015 World Cup which England will host.

"We are delighted to be extending our partnership with O2. They have been a long-term supporter of rugby at both the grassroots and elite level," RFU chief commercial officer Sophie Goldschmidt said in a statement.

Ronan Dunne, CEO of 02, said the deal was bigger than previous agreements which have been worth a reported four million pounds per year to the RFU.

He played down the indiscipline that marred England's World Cup campaign 2011 when they went out of the competition in the quarter-finals amid a blaze of bad publicity.

"Our focus was very much looking forward rather than looking back. We're confident of adding value for 02," he told reporters on a telephone conference call, describing the World Cup in 2015 as "the icing on the cake".

02 are also the telecoms partner for Premier League soccer club Arsenal in an agreement that ends this season. Dunne declined to comment on the status of talks on a renewal.

The RFU signed a sponsorship deal last month with GlaxoSmithKline, makers of Lucozade sports drinks.

England began the defence of their Six Nations title with a 13-6 win over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. They have a new caretaker coach in Stuart Lancaster and a new-look team as they try to put their World Cup debacle behind them.

Timeline

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