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Light-grain bread brand Molenberg has agreed a partnership with New Zealand Rugby, through which it will become a major sponsor of the women’s national team.

The two-year deal covers the Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens teams. The agreement grants Molenberg brand exposure on the teams’ playing and training shorts.

The deal marks the first standalone corporate sponsorship of New Zealand’s women’s rugby teams and comes on the back of the announcement of NZR’s first professional contracts for female players.

NZR chief executive Steve Tew said: “The number of women playing rugby in New Zealand and around the world continues to grow and it is fantastic to see that growth being complemented by another sponsor alongside major partners adidas and AIG.

“Our Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens players have been fantastic ambassadors for women’s rugby, and Molenberg’s decision to get behind both teams will only enhance their ability to inspire the next generation of players.”