Two universities in the north of England have concluded major sponsorship deals with the world of rugby league and both see it as money as well spent in terms of recruiting students from working- class communities.
Huddersfield University will be sponsoring Super League club Huddersfield Giants next season. Leeds Metropolitan University is sponsoring the first match of the new season, the Carnegie World Cup Challenge, which is named after Carnegie College, now part of the university.
The Huddersfield deal follows an approach by the club, which rents university training facilities.
Phil Williams, the university's head of publicity, said: "The game is a good fit for a university that takes many students from non-traditional backgrounds.
"League, which was founded here in Huddersfield, has updated its image in recent years, but is still essentially northern and working class."
Leeds Met is the strongest league university: it leads the student championship, has been a cup finalist for the past five years and is home to seven Leeds Rhinos players.
One of them, Matt Diskin, would have been playing in this Saturday's Tri-Nations final between Great Britain and Australia but for injury.
The 2005 Super League starts on February 4 with the Carnegie World Club Challenge between Leeds Rhinos and Australian champions Canterbury Bulldogs. The Carnegie site, now part of the university's faculty of sport and education, is close to the Rhinos' Headingley stadium. The university name is on the shoulders of the players' shirts.
Simon Lee, vice-chancellor of Leeds Met, said: "Rugby league is part of our Carnegie tradition. The sponsorship costs less than other universities spend on television advertising - it is a five-figure sum.
"The Rhinos crowd includes many from communities where universities have a responsibility to widen participation, and people from those communities are now walking around wearing shirts with Leeds Carnegie Met on them."