As we suggested exclusively on Sport for Business yesterday, Guinness will no longer be part of the Autumn Series of International rugby matches at the Aviva Stadium.

We raised the non-appearance of the brand in the unveiling of the All Blacks coming here in 2021 and by mid-morning, they responded with a statement bringing the curtain down on the 16-year relationship with the series.

“Following a 16-year period as the title sponsor of the GUINNESS SERIES, we can confirm we will no longer be sponsoring the Autumn test window with the IRFU.”

“We remain committed to Irish Rugby and recently renewed our long-term partnership with the IRFU, and look forward to continuing our work together into the future.”

“With partnerships with the Guinness Six Nations, Leinster Rugby and Munster Rugby, we are looking forward to the upcoming club and international season.”

The long term partnership remains then but it has been a year of exits for Guinness with this added to the departure from the Guinness PRO14 as it transformed into the United Rugby Championship.

The Guinness Six Nations partnership was one where the early part of the six-year deal was at a lower level but with the contribution rising as the partnership developed.

Covid will have derailed some of the planning around that but the investment that Guinness continues to put into the sport remains at the very highest level.

The IRFU reacted with a statement of their own which stated that “The IRFU and Guinness have been partners for many years and continue to work together. We thank them for their commitment to the Guinness series and their ongoing commitment to rugby.”

It went on to say that they were in discussions in relation to a title sponsor for the autumn international series.

Industry sources we spoke to yesterday though said that the search was wider in relation to the entire package of Autumn internationals and was being led by the Six Nations with assistance from new investor CVC Partners.

All the individual deals were up for renewal this year and the discussions are said to be focused on a financial services partner with a price tag for the entire package being looked for north of €20 million.

To get that over the line in the current uncertainty over attendance would be impressive. We will wait and see.

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