Paterson banks on new partnership to help Scottish rugby stay strong

GALA rugby record-breaker Chris Paterson has hailed Scottish rugby’s multi-million-pound partnership with RBS.

The three-and-a-half-year deal is the biggest in Scottish rugby history and the cash will be ploughed into every level of the sport – from Paterson and his colleagues at the top to kids at grass-roots level.

Paterson, the nation’s all-time leading cap winner and points scorer, said: “This is a massive step forward for rugby north of the border.

“I am excited at the prospect of more backing for the club game. Enabling these teams to grow and develop players and facilities can only result in a healthy stream of top talent.”

SRU chief executive Gordon McKie also revealed that the Murray Group has extended its jersey sponsorship to the end of next year’s Six Nations Championship, after that the RBS logo will feature on the kit.

As “principal partner” RBS will be involved closely with Scottish Rugby for three-and-a-half years.

McKie said: “We are focused on growing our sport at all levels and this integrated partnership with RBS will enable us to build upon our growth plans across the game.

“With the Scotland national team achieving success on the park (currently ranked seventh in the world) and a significant number of people taking up rugby across Scotland, the sport is in great shape.

“Attracting such a high-profile brand is testimony to the hard work undertaken by all those involved in the game.

“This partnership is great news for the whole rugby community in Scotland, and Scotland as a nation, and we look forward to working with RBS in the years ahead.”

The new partnership will work together on a programme of reinforced community activity which will engage the bank’s 340-strong branch network and 4,000 staff across Scotland to further support the governing body’s success in growing the game through the clubs in their communities.

The community commitment will begin with an enhanced RugbyForce Scotland programme being rolled out across the country.

The first demonstration of this will be the expansion of the RugbyForce facilities programme which supports local rugby clubs’ maintenance and improvement projects, as well as more ambitious redevelopments.

Paterson added: “I’ve been involved in the RBS RugbyForce programme in previous seasons – it’s a fantastic tool that allows clubs to continue to grow and to develop their facilities. These clubs are where the majority of our youngsters have their first contact with the sport, and the support from RBS will help open up even more opportunities for that to happen.”

Last year, more than 400 clubs registered across the UK for the programme, with the number set to increase in 2011.