Rugby: UK petroleum company Ineos reportedly about to sign as major All Blacks sponsor

UK petroleum company Ineos looms as a possible major sponsor for the All Blacks, when their contract with AIG ends next year.

NZ Herald reports the deal still needs approval from apparel provider Adidas and the NZ Rugby Players' Association, but would see Ineos become back-of-shorts sponsor for all national teams - All Blacks, Black Ferns, Sevens, NZ U20 and NZ Māori. 

While Ineos is best know to Kiwis for its support of Team UK's ill-fated America's Cup campaign in Auckland earlier this year, it is also a major backer over a variety of sports, including a Formula One motorsport team, a Tour de France cycling outfit and two of Europe's top football clubs.

AIG - a US insurance company - has enjoyed a 10-year relationship with NZ Rugby, but its replacement will not automatically inherit pride-of-place branding on the All Blacks jersey, which could be sold to another sponsor.

The Herald understands the deal, worth $5-8 million, was struck with Ineos chief executive Sir Jim Ratcliffe during his America's Cup visit to New Zealand.

Environmentalists have accused Ineos of investing heavily in elite sport to distract from its environmentally unfriendly core business.

NZ Rugby has reportedly carried out due diligence on the proposed deal and is expected to announce the partnership within the next few weeks.