What Glasgow Warriors unveiled several days ago, the accompanying press release trumpeted it as modernisation.
“Part of the club’s identity since the dawn of professionalism in 1996, the Warrior remains the centrepiece of the new badge, which has been refreshed to give it an updated and modern feel”, said the announcement.
And Managing Director Nathan Bombrys insisted that it will look great on television, online, and on the kit.
Supporters had mixed views, although positive views were in the minority.
One comment on Twitter suggested, “This is an own goal and looks more like a logo for a game played on Playstation. Got this one wrong.”
Another added, “Support does not confer uncritical loyalty. Not gonna support a club any less because their badge is howling. It is sadly going to stop me wearing replica kit, though.”
And another opined, “Can’t see any reason for a costly rebrand other than it being a money-making exercise to entice fans to buy new clobber.”
And therein lies the problem. Supporters of any sport spend their hard-earned cash on pledging allegiance to their team. The best way of doing it is to wear the colours. That could be traditional hats or scarves, team shirts or other branded clothing.
Whatever the choice, the common factor is that it costs the man in the street money and, on the other side, boosts the club’s coffers.
So the question most observers will ask is whether it is simply a cynical money spinner. And, of course, it’s also worth asking if it really matters.
Warriors and Scotland scrum half Ali Price injected a touch of realism when he tweeted, “Mixed response but a new badge doesn’t change the values and culture of a wonderful club. Whether the badge is 23 years old or 5 hours they will always remain.”
Gloucester supporters will no doubt empathise with the Warriors supporters. In May 2018, the Cherry and whites changed their badge. Several fans complained that they had tattoos of the previous version. To their credit, club bosses agreed to pay to have the tattoos updated. But the outcry was perhaps a sign of how little engagement there had been with supporters.
Rugby has moved on since the advent of professionalism. It’s now quite a commitment from supporters in financial terms. Of course, clubs have hefty wage bills and running costs. Sensible management is crucial. But asking supporters to repeatedly dip into their wallets will turn some away from buying merchandise.
And not involving the fans in the design process will only fuel the argument that bosses are increasingly out of touch.
Written by Colin Renton