18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
As well as sponsoring the Ulster Society of Rugby Referees, Toyota (GB) is also the current sponsor of the Irish Football Association's affiliated referees, a deal that when signed in 2005 was the first of its kind for Northern Ireland football.
Speaking about the extension of the sponsorship, James Humphries, Northern Ireland Manager, Toyota (GB) Plc, said: "Our partnership with the Ulster Society of Rugby Referees has proved to be hugely successful over the last three years and we are delighted to extend the sponsorship by another year.
""We have developed a close relationship with the Ulster Society of Rugby Referees and Ulster Rugby to help raise the profile and the development of referees at all levels of the sport within the society and we look forward to building an even stronger relationship as we move forward."
Commenting on the deal ahead of this week's USRFR Annual Conference, the Ulster Referees' President Terry Dunlop said: "This sponsorship provides much needed support to referees at all levels across Ulster and we are delighted that Toyota has renewed its sponsorship. We hope that the relationship will continue to be a great success and that we can continue to make positive strides together to the benefit of new and existing referees over the season ahead."
The deal is a real boost to the Ulster Society of Rugby Referees, who are preparing for the new season with its Beginner Course and Annual Conference at the La Mon Hotel and Country Club in Belfast next Saturday and Sunday (August 18-19). The Referee Beginners course will train new referees in the basic laws of the game with an emphasis on communication and foul prevention with the aim of introducing new referees into local rugby.
The Annual Conference will offer established referees a series of workshops and clinics focusing on a number of key elements for the upcoming season such as scrums, foul play and the breakdown of play.