LONDON (Reuters) - After replacing the Heineken Cup with the Rugby Champions Cup, organisers of the new competition announced on Monday that their "founding sponsorship partner" will be -- Heineken.
The Heineken Cup was Europe's blue riband club tournament from 1995 to 2014 but, after a long and acrimonious fight featuring threats of boycotts and legal action, it was scrapped and replaced with a similar competition.
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) announced on Monday that the Dutch brewer would come back on board, though not as a title sponsor, and would also support the new second tier competition, the European Rugby Challenge Cup through to the end of the 2017/18 season.
EPCR director and executive committee member Paul McNaughton said the launch of the competitions marked the start of a new chapter in the 20-year history of European club rugby
"Building on the rich heritage of the past, both tournaments are set to attract over one million fans in their inaugural season alone and will continue to be the gold standard in professional club rugby," he said.Heineken's global activation director Hans Erik Tuijtsaid said: "We're proud to be part of a new era in European rugby.
The opening group matches take place on Oct. 16 with the finals of both competitions in London in May.
The new Rugby Champions Cup differs from the defunct Heineken Cup in qualification criteria, distribution of revenue and it enjoys a new TV rights deal.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Ossian Shine)
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