Kit looks the business as IRFU unveils €22m deal

New ‘bosphorus’ green jersey to be worn against Georgia and Australia in November

Paul O’Connell, Rob Kearney and Tommy Bowe in Ireland’s new home and alternate kits. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Paul O’Connell, Rob Kearney and Tommy Bowe in Ireland’s new home and alternate kits. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

 

Canterbury and the IRFU unveiled the new home and alternate kits that the Irish team will wear for the next six years, beginning with the Guinness Series games against South Africa, Georgia and Australia this November. With bonuses, it is understood that the deal could be worth up to €22 million to the union.

While this amount is short of the €40 million deal that the IRFU had agreed with Puma in 2009, which was scheduled to last for eight years, it still constitutes good business for the union in the current climate. All the more so when one factors in the €11.5 million settlement agreed with Puma after it withdrew its sponsorship early last year.

“From a commercial point of view the kit partnership is one of our biggest opportunities to maximise revenue,” said Pádraig Power, the IRFU’s director of commercial and marketing, at the unveiling of the new kits in the Carton House yesterday.

Revenue for the game

Ticket sales for the South Africa and Australia games, which bookend the Guinness Series on November 8th and 22nd, are in excess of 40,000 and are expected to be 50,000 sell-outs, Power said. “We should be, hopefully, putting up the sold-out signs in the next 10 days.

“Ticket sales for Georgia are going really well. We’re at about 27,000. We think we’ve hit a really good price point where it makes it affordable. The Georgia game is about bringing kids. For a category D ticket you can bring an adult and a child for €17.50 to come and watch Ireland play, which is really good value.” The union will also refund the cost of any bus that is filled to capacity.

As the Canterbury deal takes in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, competitions which do not allow jerseys with sponsors’ logos, the Irish kit manufacturer will be developing and selling new kits for both of those tournaments as well.

On foot of the Three Ireland takeover of O2, the new Irish rugby jerseys thus have the same sponsorship logo as their football equivalent and, in truth, the jerseys appear almost too alike, particularly the alternate white kit with green pinstripe hoops that was inspired by the first international Test jersey worn in 1875, when Ireland played England at The Oval. “It’s no problem to us, we’re very happy with Three,” said Power.

Home and alternate kits

Rob Kearney

Kearney reckons he has retained about 30 jerseys from his 55 Irish and three Lions Tests. “You don’t really keep the half-time ones,” he said. “You get an embroidered one which you either keep, swap or give away, and a half-time one which you give away.

“You try and swap one with another player you admire and you give the other one away to charity. Concern and Crumlin are the two I’m involved in. Any kid that doesn’t get a full chance in life isn’t the fairest thing in my mind.”

Pride of place

Heineken CupUlsterJoe Rokocoko

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