Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
has become a worldwide partner and official sponsor of the Rugby
World Cup 2011, the bank said in a statement.

“The Rugby World Cup… fits well with ANZ given
the passion for the game and its presence in our key markets in
Asia Pacific,” said Mike Smith, the chief executive of the

ANZ is the fourth partner to be signed up
alongside credit card group MasterCard, Emirates airlines and
Heineken, but financial deals of the sponsorship were not

“This sponsorship is a clear signal of our
long-standing commitment to both rugby and to New Zealand,” Smith
said, adding that the bank had a “strong association” with rugby
from the grassroots. 

The move comes as the bank posts underlying
profits of A$2.3 billion ($2 billion) for the six months ended 31
March, up 23 percent compared to the preceding half of the year and
20 percent higher than the comparable period of 2009.