(L-R): Golden Bay Fruit director Evan Heywood, Tamara Silcock of the Tasman Mako women’s team and Golden Bay Fruit chief executive Heath Wilkins 

Golden Bay Fruit has signed on as principal sponsor of female rugby in New Zealand’s Tasman region.

The partnership with Tasman Rugby Union includes front of jersey branding for the Tasman Mako Farah Palmer Cup team. Golden Bay Fruit will also support the region’s academy programme, the Tasman Trophy club competition and other Tasman representative teams.

The company’s founding partners, Heath Wilkins of Birdhurst Orchards and Evan Heywood of Heywood Orchards, are both keen rugby enthusiasts who have children playing the game.

“Our philosophy to growing and marketing fruit is based on quality, sustainability and partnering, and we will bring those same values to helping Tasman Rugby grow female participation' said Wilkins, chief executive of Golden Bay Fruit.

Golden Bay Fruit grows, packs and exports a large selection of premium apples and pears from its largely automated packhouse in Motueka. It also grows kiwifruit.

Tasman Rugby Union chief executive Tony Lewis said the sponsorship would help grow female rugby in the region.

“Horticulture is a major economic driver in Te Tau Ihu and for Golden Bay Fruit to recognise the value of female rugby to connect with their stakeholders is particularly pleasing,” explained Lewis. “We welcome their involvement in our game and our Union.”