The RFU and ERFSU announced yesterday that NatWest would take over the title sponsorship of the tournament previously known as the Daily Cup from the start of the 2013/14 season.
The tournament will now be known as the NatWest Schools Cup and Fifteen Rugby understands that there will be no change in the format of the competition.
It is understood that the Daily Mail were keen to continue their sponsorship of the prestigious schools competition, with which it has been involved in each of the 26 years since it was created, however the RFU took the decision to go with NatWest after nearly 14 months of negotiations.
The RFU have said that they will be reviewing their media strategy around the competition, saying that they remain hopeful of bringing in a major media partner.
It is still theoretically possible that the Daily Mail could retain some association with the tournament however noises from either side seem to suggest that this is not likely.
Commenting on the announcement, RFU Chief Commercial Officer Sophie Goldschmidt said:
â€œThe RFU are delighted to welcome NatWest on board as title partner of the NatWest Schools Cup and are excited about the new opportunities that this partnership will bring. We look forward to further growing the competition.â€
â€œWe would like to thank the Daily Mail for the role they have played in helping to progress the tournament and for their long and valued support.â€
Tim Stirk, ERFSU President said: â€œThe Schools competition has fast become a pathway for young players up and down the country to play rugby in a competitive environment, testing themselves and their improvement against schools that they would not meet on their usual fixture list.â€
â€œIt is also the showcase of the high standards achieved by schools in England. You need only glance at the players who have passed through the Schools competition, including Chris Robshaw, Danny Care, Manu Tuilagi and Elliott Daly to see the impact the tournament can have on inspiring those players with aspirations to become professionals.â€
â€œThis partnership commitment is another huge step forward for the competition and on behalf of the ERFSU, I am delighted to welcome NatWest.â€
Chris Long, Senior Sponsorship Manager at NatWest, commented:
â€œItâ€™s a fantastic competition and one that all school rugby players across England want to win. Alongside NatWest RugbyForce, a community initiative that has provided support to over 1,000 local rugby clubs since 2009, this partnership further demonstrates our commitment to supporting grassroots rugby in the UK.â€
It sees certain that there will be other announcements from the ERFSU ahead of the new season regarding the â€˜NatWest Schools Cupâ€, and while many will undoubtedly find it hard to adjust to the new naming there can be no doubting NatWest and the RBS Groups (who have also been title sponsors of the tournament in recent years) commitment to the cause.
Our editor will share his thoughts on the change and on the possible fallouts from it in his Fifteen Uncut blog tomorrow.