ERC today welcomed Ford as a new Premium Partner to European club rugby’s prestigious Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup tournaments.

The partnership will showcase the Ford Ranger pick-up and comes into place for the knock-out stages of the 2006/07 Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup commencing with the quarter-finals this weekend (30 / 31 March / 1 April).

Ford Ranger, already broadcast sponsor of Sky Sports’ extensive tournament coverage, now becomes official vehicle to both European club tournaments.

Jean-Pierre Lux, ERC Chairman, said, “We are delighted to welcome a global brand of Ford’s calibre as our fourth Premium Partner. We look forward to working with Ford to further promote and enhance both European club tournaments to the benefit of all stakeholders.

“The Heineken Cup in particular has shown sustained growth over the past few seasons with growing attendances and an increasingly strong international broadcast platform.

“Ford’s extensive international network will add valuable additional weight to the existing promotional platform for the events to further showcase the tournament’s excellent product.”

Mark Jones, Ford UK Advertising & Sponsorship Manager, said, “We are delighted to be able to showcase our Ford Ranger as part of  Europe’s premier club rugby tournament alongside some of the best rugby teams and players in the world to fans at games and watching on television.

“Ford in the UK will be celebrating this association by holding a week of rugby activities between 14 and 22 April where we will offer rugby fans the chance to win tickets to European rugby fixtures including the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham.”

Ford join Alice, FedEx and EDF as tournament organiser ERC’s Premium Partners to the Heineken Cup, and FedEx and EDF as Partners to the European Challenge Cup.

The Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup quarter-finals will kick-off on Friday, 30 March with the clash between Llanelli Scarlets and Munster in the Heineken Cup and ASM Clermont Auvergne and Newcastle Falcons in the European Challenge Cup.

The London 07 Heineken Cup final will be played at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday 20 May, kick-off 2.30pm.