All Blacks jersey will show petrochemical giant's logo

By Will Trafford

New Zealand Rugby has inked a new sponsorship deal with petrochemical giant INEOS despite staunch criticism from environmental group Greenpeace.

The six-year partnership will kick off in the 2022 season, with INEOS branded an ‘Official Performance Partner’ of NZR.

NZR says INEOS will appear on the back of the playing shorts and on the front of the Training Jersey of the All Blacks, Black Ferns, All Blacks Sevens, Black Ferns Sevens, Māori All Blacks, All Blacks XV and All Blacks Under-20.

London-based INEOS, which is majority-owned by billionaire founder and chief executive Jim Ratcliffe, has holdings in oil, gas and petrochemicals.

Greenpeace says it has been lobbying NZR against the deal.

"Now is the time in history when big oil and plastic polluters need the red card, not a pat on the back," the organisation's website says.

INEOS has existing sponsorship arrangements with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team; INEOS Grenadiers cycling team, and football clubs OGC Nice and FC Lausanne-Sport.

INEOS TEAM UK sailing was considered the most heavily funded sailing team in its unsuccessful bid for the 2021 America’s Cup.

“We are committed to nurturing the development of rugby over the next six years with INEOS Sport and are looking forward to working alongside some of the best sports teams in the world,”  NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but NZ Rugby says more information will be unveiled later this year.