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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 10:48 GMT
Wallabies dumped by sponsor
Australia at the World Cup
Australia lost the World Cup final to England
Australia's rugby union team have been dumped by their sponsor Vodafone after a six-year association.

The mobile phone company was disappointed at a lack of access to players during the 2003 World Cup.

"We have serious concerns over the continuing conflicts that exist between sponsors and international events," said Vodafone chief Grahame Maher.

The Australian Rugby Union is now looking for replacement sponsorship to compensate for the lost revenue.

"We are in advanced discussions with several other companies and are very positive about the prospects of finalising both the Wallabies naming rights and other sponsorships in the near future," said the ARU.

"In relation to comments regarding Vodafone's exposure during Rugby World Cup, this situation was clearly understood when the ARU signed with the company in 2000.

Despite our long-term support we had limited opportunities to maximise our association with the team

"Like all prestigious international events, such as the Olympics and the football World Cup, participants are obliged to operate in a clean commercial environment."

Vodafone, which poured an estimated 3m into the Wallabies kitty, felt short-changed by the deal.

"Despite our long-term support we had limited opportunities to maximise our direct association with the team," said Maher.

Vodafone is a major player in sport sponsorship, holding deals with Ferrari, Michael Schumacher, Manchester United, David Beckham and the England cricket team.

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