Pitch black the new white for Ireland as jersey gets makeover


THE IRELAND rugby team will wear a new black jersey for the first time at home to South Africa on November 10th – and that is likely to be the last we’ll see of it for at least two years. The alternative kit is a replacement for the traditional white, and features some slivers of green on an all-black background. Like its predecessor, it will be seen more in the stands than on the pitch.

Ireland will not wear it in the Six Nations or on their summer Tour to America and Canada next year, nor will it be worn against either Fiji or Argentina in this month’s autumn international series.

The Springboks are the only opponent Ireland could face before the 2015 World Cup who would require them to change out of their traditional green garb. Even then, it will only be necessary at home.

In rugby, the travelling team wears its first kit, requiring the hosts to change if necessary.

With New Zealand (all black), Samoa (blue) and Australia (gold) the guests next November, the new kit, released just in time for the Christmas market, will only be dusted off again if and when South Africa arrive the following year.

The kit, with its “high-tech nylon/lycra four-way stretch body material”, was developed by Puma, and is “contemporary and innovative”, according to commercial and marketing director of the IRFU Pádraig Power.

The visit of South Africa, he added, “gives us an opportunity to bring some variety to how we present the Irish rugby brand. Our feedback from supporters has been very positive and we expect it to look really strong on the pitch. We think our supporters will be delighted with it and they will wear it with pride.”

Fans confident or brave enough to want the figure-hugging “match” version will have to pay €90 for the privilege, with the “replica” adult kit retailing at €66 and kids’ jerseys for €45. Whether cash-strapped parents are as enthusiastic about Ireland’s new brand this Christmas remains to be seen, while the reaction from New Zealanders – some of whom were less than impressed when England introduced a black jersey prior to the World Cup the Kiwis hosted last year – may be lukewarm.

New Zealand prime minister John Key described the insubordinates as “wannabes”, adding: “There’s only one team that wears black with pride and that’s the All Blacks.”

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