19 May, 11:13
There are six uncapped players in the Ireland squad for the summer tour to North America that was named this morning. An Emerging Ireland squad has also been selected for the Tblisi Cup in Georgia.
Connacht have received a timely boost ahead of the new season with Aer Arann coming on board as an associate sponsor of Michael Bradley's side.
Connacht Rugby CEO Gerry Kelly said: "We are delighted to welcome Aer Arann on board for the new season. We have watched this progressive Galway company grow over the years to become a major player in the aviation industry, very much what we are trying to do in a rugby context.
"This is an important season for Connacht Rugby and it is heartening that such quality top-line companies have come on board to support us," he added.
This is the first major rugby sponsorship deal for Aer Arann, which operates over 600 flights per week across 39 routes in Ireland, the UK and France.
Commenting on the announcement, Garry Cullen, Aer Arann's Managing Director, said: "We are delighted to be coming on board as official sponsor of Connacht Rugby. We have experienced huge growth from the west of Ireland in the past few years operating services from Galway, Knock and Sligo airports and we continue to look for new opportunities for development from these airports which form a key part of our overall route network.
"We very much welcome the opportunity to get involved in the local community and it is a particular honour to sponsor such a progressive team from our home province.
"We look forward to working with Connacht Rugby throughout the season and wish them every success," added Cullen.
Aer Arann will join main sponsors Bank of Ireland, who recently announced a new two-year extension to their sponsorship, and associate sponsors Days Hotel, as the primary backers of Connacht Rugby for the new season. The logos of all three companies will appear on the Connacht playing shirt with Bank of Ireland on the front, Days Hotel on the right sleeve and Aer Arann on the back.
Connacht open their Magners League campaign away to Border Reivers on Friday and will then have seven home matches on the trot, including their opening game of the European Challenge Cup against Harlequins.