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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Due to a change in major sponsorship, the Illawarra Cutters will play under a new name in the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership season.
The reigning State and National champions have confirmed they will now be called Illawarra RLFC.
As a result, Illawarra RLFC will also use the St George Illawarra Dragons logo moving forward and the sponsorship on the front of the jersey will carry the Steelers Club logo.
"We are forever grateful for the support Illawarra Coal provided to help establish the club and to rugby league in the Illawarra," Illawarra RLFC Chairman Sean O'Connor said.
"As part of their partnership, five years ago they negotiated the naming rights to the team, that name is now retired and we have shifted our sponsorship base to a broader model."
Naming the team Illawarra RLFC symbolises a new stage in the development of the club, reflecting the broad role this team plays across the region and positions it for the prospective whole of game structural changes foreshadowed for 2018.
Illawarra RLFC wishes to acknowledge Illawarra Coal for their support over the past five seasons, as well as thank the Steelers Club, KJ Industrial Scaffolding, The Hardware Man, Multi Civil and Rail and LX Electrical for their ongoing support.
Illawarra RLFC's first match under new coach Mathew Head will take place at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Saturday, March 4 at 2:10pm against the Penrith Panthers.
It will play part in a triple-header headlined by the Dragons' NRL Telstra Premiership season-opener at 4:30pm.
Naming the team Illawarra RLFC symbolises a new stage in the development of the club. When the Illawarra Intrust Super Premiership franchise was established it was done so to complete the playing pathway - providing the link between the 20s, the local league and fringe players with NRL aspirations.
Referring to the team now as Illawarra reflects the broad role this team plays, our vital relationship with the St George Illawarra Dragons, a change in our sponsorship approach and positions us for the prospective whole of game structural changes foreshadowed for 2018
This decision was taken by the Illawarra RLFC Committee in consultation with the Steelers and St George Illawarra Dragons.
We are forever grateful for the support Illawarra Coal provided to help establish the club and the support given to rugby league in the Illawarra. Together we have created a vibrant franchise that has experienced success. As part of our partnership, Illawarra Coal negotiated the naming rights of the team - a name that has now been retired as we shift the sponsorship model to a broader one.
Over a five-year period Illawarra Coal's support has been vital and we thank them sincerely. A change in partner was foreshadowed some months ago as South 32 realigned its community support program with new corporate priorities. Our partnership concluded at the end of February, 2017.
We are extremely pleased to have a new family of sponsors that we announced on Friday, March 3. We welcome the Steelers registered club and its partner Tabcorp, The Hardware Man and MCR.
We are also pleased to welcome back KJ Scaffolding and LX Electrical. We are very grateful for the support from our sponsors.
The Steelers enter teams in the Harold Mathews Matthews and SG Ball competitions under the St George Illawarra Dragons' junior representative structure. The Steelers also have a team in the Tarsha Gale women's Nines competition.
Illawarra RLFC is a separate entity that competes in the Intrust Super Premiership. Referring to the team now as Illawarra reflects the broad role this team plays and our vital relationship with the St George Illawarra Dragons. Our focus from day one has been about pathways and providing young players from the region the chance to play in the NRL.
The Dragons are the single greatest supporter of Illawarra RLFC and we are proud to be their feeder team. In addition to their financial support the Dragons provide players, coaching and systems support which allow us to compete to the standard that has resulted in State and National championships.
Use of the Dragons' logo also references our pathway objectives and allows us to align effectively. Ideally, the function of Illawarra RLFC is for Illawarra and South Coast juniors to have the opportunity to develop through the Intrust Super Premiership and potentially earn NRL contracts with the Dragons.
The Dragons have fully supported the establishment and development of the club and its aims.