Lion Nathan has signed an agreement which will see its Steinlager brand become a major sponsor of the All Black rugby team.

As a result of the arrangement, the brand will be on the training strip and training equipment of the All Blacks. The new sponsorship position is second tier to "Principal Partner" adidas, which is "Partner and Principal Sponsor" of the NZRU and the All Blacks and exclusive sports apparel and footwear supplier to the All Blacks and other national teams as well as the apparel sponsor of the five Xtra Super 12 franchises.

The lager has enjoyed a long association with the All Blacks, with its support dating back to 1986. In 1999, Steinlager's sponsorship of the All Blacks moved to a new position, as 'Official Beer of the New Zealand All Blacks' when adidas took over the principal sponsorship.

NZRU chief executive Officer Chris Moller said today that Steinlager was as New Zealand as the All Blacks and the stepping up in the relationship was a natural consequence of many years of supporting New Zealand rugby.

"In an important year for New Zealand rugby this enhanced relationship with Steinlager is great news," said Moller. "Steinlager is ana truly iconic 'kiwi' brand and so are the All Blacks, making this a perfect match."

Andrew Carter UK and Europe marketing director of Lion Nathan said: "It's great for Steinlager, New Zealand's finest lager, to be upgrading its association with the formidable All Blacks. The world class reputation of the All Blacks makes the association a great fit for Steinlager, and with the Rugby World Cup coming up in October there will be plenty of opportunities to celebrate the association."