16 Apr 14
Munster trained in the sunshine at UL yesterday, ahead of Saturday evening's crucial derby away to Connacht in the RaboDirect PRO12.
" Today is about announcing good news in what are difficult times." Fitzgerald said after welcoming guests and media to the launch. "Today is about confirming that one of the biggest international brands in the motor industry are to extend their partnership with Munster Rugby for a further 3 years, up until 2013. Over the 9 years of our partnership Toyota Ireland will have spent over €13M. This is a big commitment form Toyota Ireland in a challenging economic climate. We respect and appreciate their integrity. Their values sit comfortably with Munster's."
Both men made a point of referring to the late Dr Tim Mahony who instigated the association in the first place, Fitzgerald calling him a visionary, "Our first media briefing with Toyota in the old Thomond Park was attended by Dr. Tim Mahony who is synonymous with the success of the Toyota brand in Ireland." Fitzgerald said "Tim was a visionary and a man ahead of his time. Getting Tim's blessing helped to cement the relationship that exists between Toyota Ireland and Munster."
Shannon continued in a similar vein, "It really does seem like only yesterday when our late Chairman, Dr. Tim Mahony, stood in the reception room beneath the Old Thomond Park and announced in his own delightful way the excitement he felt at the forthcoming association between Munster and Toyota.
"As always his instincts were right; and since then we have been on a magical journey together. One that has seen Munster teams deliver, to their wonderfully devoted fans, two Heineken Cups, a Celtic Cup and a Magners League. In tandem with this has been the Munster branch's magnificent achievement in developing a truly iconic and worthy home for the team here in Thomond Park Stadium.
Shannon went on to say. "But of course it has been about much more than just those successes; the Munster Team has consistently lifted our spirits and given us days to cherish. Indeed the Munster team's appeal reaches far beyond the province. Irish audiences reached almost one million people for Munster's showdown with the All Blacks in 2008 and their momentous Heineken Cup victories. All around the World, Munster is respected and revered among the rugby community and is a testament to the strength and commitment of the people behind this great rugby province.
"Naturally, this has to be first and foremost a commercial arrangement, but I know I speak for both parties when I say at this point that it goes well beyond commerciality, as partners we sit very comfortably together and our values reflects one another. Long may it be so…
Fitzgerald concluded by saying "Sponsorship in sport is important to ensure survival. In professional sport it is essential. Munster Rugby could not survive without sponsorship. We have enjoyed a very close relationship with Toyota Ireland since they came on board back in 2004 and are delighted that they will continue to support Munster Rugby, a support that will, I believe, prove crucial as we set about maintaining our position in global club rugby.
"It is particularly gratifying to have that support at such a challenging economic time and we look forward to meeting the challenges that lie ahead with a confidence that comes from being associated with one of the world's leading Brand names."