By Ranjika Perera
Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) yesterday (10) unveiled their new title sponsor Nippon Paint for the Premier Inter-Club Rugby League. This was after a long wait when national rugby did not have a main sponsor for its main tournament.
Nippon Paint are no stranger in sports as they have sponsored various motorsports and cricket events in the past. However, it is the first time Nippon Paints have stepped up to work along with Sri Lanka’s rugby.
Advertised as the no. 1 paint company in Asia Pacific, Nippon comes in as the title sponsor at a time when SLR was unable to find any sponsors for the league after Dialog Axiata PLC pulled out at the last minute due to contractual disagreements.
This sponsorship will see both parties working together to create more crowd engagements with fun games and fabulous prizes. The current sponsorship agreement is only valid for the ongoing Premier Inter-Club Rugby League, Clifford Cup Knock-out Tournament, and the Inter-Club 7’s.
The sponsorship announcement was made yesterday in Ramada Hotel, Colombo.
During their discussions, Nippon Paint had shown keenness in sponsoring other tournaments including the International Rugby 7’s, U-21 International Women’s 15’s Rugby, and U-24 Inter-Provincial Tournament.
Nippon Paint together with SLR are expected to boost Sri Lanka’s rugby to the next level and help them win a medal in an international tournament.
With Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games both scheduled later this year, it is important that Sri Lanka find the funding to support the players to play to their fullest potential.
Speaking to the media, Nippon Paint Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. General Manager Nemantha Abeysinghe said: “I would like to thank SLR for this opportunity to come on board as the title sponsor of the Rugby League.
“We have been involved in Sri Lanka sports, especially in motorsports, racing, and partly in cricket. This is the first time we are getting involved with rugby and it is a great opportunity for our company which has been around for more than 140 years and is the no 1. paint company in Asia Pacific.
“This is only the beginning and we hope to continue this in the coming years because Nippon Paints is not a one-stop shop. We have a rich history and we hope to build on it going forward.”
SLR President Rizly Illyaz, speaking at the conference, said: “We toiled hard to find sponsors after previous sponsors backed down. It was tough to bring in sponsors while the tournament was ongoing but I was fortunate enough to find Mr. Nemantha, who has played the game and understands the value and ethics of rugby.”
The value of the sponsorship was not disclosed by Ilyaz but he went on to say that Sri Lanka needs approximately Rs. 256 million a year.
It covers all international and domestic tournaments, high-performance training, and player salaries. With four more games remaining in the first round of the league, it will take another two more weeks to finish the first round.
The top four will proceed to the Cup super round and the bottom four will play for the Plate.