Saturday 25 May 2019

Here's a toast to hypocrisy with a pint of 'Heino'

New director-general Tom Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile
New director-general Tom Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

European Rugby announced on Monday that Heineken will sponsor the Champions Cup from next season in what is essentially a return to the deal which ran from 1995 to 2014.

The competition will be called the Heineken Champions Cup and, according to Vincent Gaillard, European Rugby's chief executive, "it is fitting that at such an exciting time for the tournament, we welcome back a world-leading brand in Heineken."

More than that, "they are steeped in rugby history and inextricably linked with the heritage of European rugby," said Gaillard.

I checked as much media - broadcast and print - as possible over the last two days and found very little criticism of such a major rugby event resuming links with an alcohol company.

Now consider what would happen if the GAA announced that Guinness were returning as title sponsors of the All-Ireland hurling championships.

Imagine if new director-general Tom Ryan talked of how Guinness was 'steeped in hurling history and inextricably linked with the heritage of the game'.

The outcry would be deafening. Medics, media, politicians, anti-alcohol activists and various others, all of whom savaged the GAA relentlessly when Guinness were aboard as sponsors, would go into overdrive.

Basically, the GAA would be portrayed as socially reckless renegades. 'Liveline' would have a field day!

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So why the silence when it's rugby? Is it because it's an international event and viewed differently to our own indigenous sports? After all, silence reigns too when Guinness emblazon the name on the Lansdowne Road pitch for the autumn rugby internationals.

Double-standards or hypocrisy? Take your pick.

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