The British and Irish Lions have named Santander International as one of its official partners, ahead of the upcoming tour against South Africa.

Santander is a long-time supporter and investor in rugby sponsorship, including Douglas Rugby Club on the Isle of Man and Rugby Football Union (RFU) Championship club Jersey Reds, in addition to holding the naming rights to the latter’s stadium.

Furthermore, the bank is a sponsor of the Strive Academy, the location where the Lions will train whilst in Jersey. Outside of rugby, Santander operates a range of alternative sporting sponsorships, such as maintaining a partnership between Banco Santander and Spain’s top-flight La Liga tournament.

“We are very pleased to welcome Santander International to our family of commercial partners,” said Tom Halsey, Commercial Director for The British & Irish Lions.

“Santander International is already a major supporter of rugby in the Crown Dependencies and we look forward to working together to deliver an innovative and engaging programme that will allow the residents of Jersey to engage with the Tour while it’s on island.

“We are very grateful that businesses like Santander International recognise the positive social and economic impact sport can make around the world.”   

The Lions arrive in Jersey in ten days time to begin preparations for a warm-up match against Japan at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June, before departing for South Africa to take on the Springboks for the 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series.

James Poutney, CEO of Santander International, commented: “We are delighted that the Lions have chosen Jersey to host its pre-Tour training camp and are excited about the boost it will bring to our people and economy, to the businesses on-island and to the overall positivity it will deliver.”

“Santander International believes in the power of sport to improve physical and mental health, and its ability to deliver economic stimulus after a period enforced stasis. This is why we aim to deliver a range of economic, social and sporting programmes across Jersey and the Isle of Man. 

“Through this partnership we aim to recognise, reward and inspire residents and visitors alike and hope as many people as possible are able to engage with the Lions when they’re in Jersey. We have many activities planned and look forward to a successful camp programme.”

The feasibility of the Lions tour of South Africa had previously been cast under doubt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) maintaining that spectator-less fixtures conducted behind closed doors would not be financially viable for its clubs.

Rugby Australia had offered to host the tour following a series of successful sporting events which saw the return of spectators. However, the offer was rejected by the Lions on the basis that it was’ unviable’.

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