Today the South African Rugby Union (SARU) released the first images of the Springbok jersey that will be used at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. The Jersey was produced by sponsors Asics who have been in partnership with the Boks since 2014 and features their logo prominently on the front in gold. The jersey is fairly plain in comparison to those worn at previous World Cups and is almost entirely green with very little of the secondary colour (gold) of the Springboks visible.
Asics confirms that the jersey was produced in consultation with Springbok players in order to create a tailor made jersey to fulfill the inherent requirements of the team. The main goal was to provide the players with a jersey that offered as little restriction as possible. As such the jersey is equipped with some of the following features: grip print to assist in catching and carrying the ball, stretch material on the sides and under arms to allow for greater movement of the arms, a side seem for strong binding and each jersey is also equipped with specialised player specific patterns based on 3D measurements that were taken.
The front of the jersey features the Protea over the heart which is the team logo (the Springbok logo having previously been replaced), the Asics logo in the centre and, as regulated, the World Rugby logo is visible on the opposite side of the chest. The Springbok emblem has been moved to the sleeve as World Rugby limits the number of emblems and sponsors permitted on the front of a jersey to be used at the World Cup. The situation was the same in 2015 and did cause some outcry from fans when the Bok emblem was moved however such a move is not a political decision and is mandatory from World Rugby. The other sleeve boasts the World Cup trophy with 1995 and 2007 listed as the years in which the Boks claimed the title.
Although the jersey features trend setting technology as detailed by Asics and SARU, the response to the jersey has been a little underwhelming. A World Cup year is often the time that many fans tend to renew their team jerseys however, I suspect sales will be a little bleak this year. The jersey is very plain and the collar is unappealing. Fans are likely to prefer their more traditional Springbok jerseys over the World Cup edition. Whilst SARU went all out on the super hero theme for the Super Rugby jerseys, they definitely went the conservative route this time around.
Fans have voiced their dismay on social media with one commenting “Introducing the new rugby jersey, it comes with a free chin rest”. The large white area looks misplaced on the jersey and more thought should have been given to its appeal if SARU intends to cash in on the world cup craze, the Blitzboks jersey from 2018 should have served as a baseline going forward. Whilst the ‘away’ jersey is entirely white, it also lacks any real detail and is again unlikely to attract many buyers.
Whilst most teams have not yet revealed their attire for the Japan edition of the World Cup, hopefully their sponsors will show a little more creativity and manage to capture at least some of the essence of the world cup excitement in their designs. For now, we introduce the Springboks…. in green.
Written by: Nicholas Halsey
Image credit: Sport24