Zurich Financial Services has won a jewel in the sporting calendar after clinching a three-year deal to sponsor the Rugby English Premiership.

It will be known as the Zurich Premiership.

They have also sealed the sponsorship of a new end of season play-off competition, the Zurich Championship.

The Premiership kicks off on August 19 and finishes on April 14, 2001, followed by the Championship, which runs from April 28 to May 12 next year. Matches are set to be screened live on Sky Sports.

Sandy Leitch, chief executive of Zurich Financial Services UK Operations, said: "Rugby has never been in better shape and in a position to challenge the Southern Hemisphere on the field. We look forward to working with the Premiership clubs to help create the best, most competitive domestic league in the world."