The RAF has attracted a major sponsorship deal for its upcoming rugby union season.

Communications giant BT is now backing the air force's women's and men's teams, who are looking forward to a tilt at winning back the inter-services title in their centenary year.

More than 90 players, officials and RAF supporters gathered at the BT Tower to launch the new season in an event hosted by England World Cup legend Ben Kay - now one of BT Sport's leading rugby pundits.

RAF Rugby Union 2017 season launch

England head coach Eddie Jones was also there as a guest (see top), with his presence sure to motivate the light blues for tough fixtures ahead.

It comes at a time when the RAF's men's and women's teams are looking particularly strong.

Josh McNally is now a regular at the top level with London Irish, while Amy Cokayne played for England at the World Cup.

Sian Williams and Lucy Nye have been making a big impact in the sevens variant, meanwhile. The latter said:

"I've only played two seasons for RAF Rugby and the season before I played... what that was like then to what it is now is absolutely ridiculous."

"The support we've got now shows the development and how much people are willing to invest in us.

"Now it comes down to us and players and coaches to work as hard as we can to keep the momentum going. I don't see why we can't beat the Army this year."

BT's sponsorship will be used to bolster all aspects of RAF Rugby, and it's hoped a top Premiership venue will stage one of the RAF's inter-services games next year.

But the quest to win back the inter-services title, which the Air Force last won in 2015, is the priority.

Also in attendance at the event was one of Britain's most respected sports coaches.

Professor Frank Dick, who has coached and mentored many of Britain's most successful athletes, paid tribute to the UK Invictus Games athletes and the spirit of the competition.

He said the spirit, determination and abilities of wounded servicemen and women-turned athletes is truly inspirational - just click below to watch.

Comments