The sponsorship represents a significant reduction in income for the tournament which turned down a €15m-a-year deal to continue with RBS two years ago in the belief they could secure a better offer. Diageo, owners of Guinness, will shell out a reported €6.7m for the first season with the yearly amount rising to €13.5m in the final year.
The drinks brand already sponsors the PRO14 and Ireland’s November internationals, but the Six Nations will become the jewel in their crown.
The first Guinness Six Nations kicks off in eight weeks’ time, with defending champions Ireland opening their campaign at home to England.
French referee Jerome Garces was yesterday confirmed as the man who will referee that fixture as World Rugby confirmed their appointment of officials for the tournament.
Romain Poite will be the man in the middle for the team’s second game against Scotland, with New Zealander Glen Jackson taking charge of the visit to Italy. His compatriot Ben O’Keeffe will ref the clash with France in Dublin, before Australian Angus Gardner officiates Ireland’s visit to Cardiff to face Wales on the final weekend.
Meanwhile, Dan Leavy will start at No 8 for Leinster when they face Bath at the Rec this afternoon (3.15) as Munster pair Joey Carbery and Conor Murray together for the first time against Castres tomorrow (1.0).
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