South West Communications Group is preparing for the 20th year of its sponsorship of Exeter Chiefs with a celebratory photo shoot with the club’s England U20s Junior World Championship winners.
The Exeter-based telephone systems and data networks and Internet service providers, first paid for the Exeter Rugby Club’s first team shirts for the 1993/94 season when they were known as South West Telecoms.
South West Communications Group’s involvement with the club has grown year on year throughout the next two decades, incorporating the Exeter Chiefs rebranding, and their move to Sandy Park, promotion to the Premiership and qualification for the Heineken Cup.
The 20 year milestone, which exceeds any other main first team shirt sponsor’s deal in the Premiership, was marked with a photo shoot involving former Chiefs player and South West Communications Group’s managing director Harry Langley and the club’s England U20s players, Joel Conlon, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Sam Hill, Jack Nowell and Henry Slade.
The quintet, who helped their country win the Junior World Championship this summer, were all born around the first year of South West Communications Group’s first association with the club.
Mr Langley said: “It is amusing to think our sponsorship deal is older than some of these players who will undoubtedly be a large part of Exeter Chiefs’ future, but it’s also a very clear illustration of the length of time we have continued to support to the club.
“Exeter Chiefs is a proud, traditional club that has risen through the leagues to compete against the very best in English and European club rugby. We have been proud to have been the Chiefs’ main sponsor for all this time and to watch it develop into the top flight team it has become.
“We certainly link our own success to this long-term commercial sponsorship. During that time, we have grown by 500%.”
Exeter Chiefs finished sixth in the Aviva Premiership last season and qualified for the Heineken Cup for a second year in a row with pool games against champions Toulon, Glasgow Warriors and Cardiff Blues in store this season.
Keiron Northcott, Exeter Chiefs’ deputy chief executive, said: “South West Communications Group’s dedication to this club is remarkable. What started as a throwaway request in a rugby club bar has developed into a full-scale sponsorship package that has stood the test of time. The team is proud to run out with the ‘sw comms’ branding on its shirts, as it represents an Exeter firm that has loyally stood by the club throughout its professional existence.”