FEATHERSTONE ROVERS is believed to have become the first sports club to enlist the Army as one of its shirt sponsors.
The West Yorkshire rugby league club yesterday announced the 12-month deal with the Army and its careers information office in nearby Wakefield.
Although the financial value of the deal is just 5,000, Featherstone chief executive Andy Prout believes there are far more benefits to the partnership than purely monetary advantage.
"It's a real coup for us having the British Army on the back of our jersies," he said.
"We have developed a great relationship over the last few months and we're very proud and honoured to take this step.
"We originally came together by chance when we played the Army here in a Challenge Cup tie in March.
"We won the match quite convincingly but the score didn't matter; our players were left speechless when they found out nine of the side who had put their bodies on the line that weekend were being deployed to the Helmand province in Afghanistan on the Wednesday," he said.
"It puts things into perspective."
Major Graham Milson, in charge of recruitment throughout West Yorkshire, helped broker the deal and explained how the Army sees many similarities with the sport of rugby league.
"The skills need to play rugby league – professionalism, desire, team work, confidence and fitness – are all the sort of qualities we want for our soldiers," he said.
"We think this link sends the right message but also benefits the club."
The Army will join forces with Rovers in their community programmes and school visits while any serving Army member will get free admission to the championship club's home matches next season.