EARTH Titans, the rebranded Rotherham Rugby Club, have hit back at suggestions they have sold out to commercialism at the expense of their identity.

The club's first team, which plies its trade in National One, the second tier of English professional rugby, has dropped the name of the town and will become known as Earth Titans.

The rebranding was part of a six-figure sponsorship deal struck with Hellaby-based national company Earth Mortgages.

A club spokesman said: "The decision to drop Rotherham was not taken lightly, but the deal was forged with the best interests of the club at heart.

"We are still Rotherham Rugby Club. We are very grateful to the council for their help in rescuing us last season. Both Rotherham Council and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce will be sponsored on the collars of our shirts next season.

"Earth Mortgages have put a lot of money into the club and we are delighted with the deal."

Earth Mortgages directors Darren Millington and Mike Worthington tried to buy Rotherham United last season but pulled the plug at the 11th hour.

They have been long-term sponsors of the rugby club.

In a statement they said: "We would like to reassure the fans of Earth Titans that our partnership with the club has been developed with the clubs best interests at the forefront.

"We are extremely passionate about the club, the local people and Rotherham itself and believe strongly in giving back to the community. We both pledge our commitment and support to the club and are working hard to build a long-lasting, sound relationship with the club and more importantly the fans."

* Meanwhile, Jason Keyter has teamed up with former Titans coach Mike Schmid at National Two side Esher.

The American-born winger spent three years at Clifton Lane.