Friday, July 13, 2012

No More All Black For The All Blacks?

The blazers at the NZRU may have gone a step "Tew" far, says Tim Cronin of rugbyshirts.net

All Black jersey from 1920

In surprising news this week, the NZRU CEO Steve Tew admitted that he and the other power brokers in charge of New Zealand rugby were indeed in discussions with insurance giant AIG, over a possible sponsorship deal. The finer details can't be revealed at this stage, but Tew certainly didn't deny the possibility that the deal may include a large AIG logo front and center of the the All Blacks famed jersey. 

For most of the Rugby mad country, the black jersey is hallowed ground. Tew will have to face a torrent of outraged fans should the deal materialise. Many feel that the aura behind the team should be enough for any willing sponsor. With the masses of media coverage and online interaction putting the All Blacks front and center of more supporters more often, it could be argued that there's ample opportunity for a sponsor promote themselves along side the World Champs. 

The cost and risks involved with professional sport in New Zealand was made all the more real this year when the Otago Rubgy Union (separate to the Highlanders) teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. Sponsors are vital in order for the game to survive and thrive, and they rightfully deserve pride of place for their contributions, but a tactful approach is important. Adidas have respected the black jersey throughout their relationship with the NZRU, with a minor amount of their own branding on the famous jersey. 

AIG are not a sporting company. What they want is plain and simple - to be promoted. It's doubtful that they bring anything other than money to this deal. The thought of a company, especially an overseas one wanting to deface the All Blacks jersey with their brand is something many Kiwis will despise. Steve Tew and co must remember that they have care, not ownership of a special piece of New Zealand culture and history. You wouldn't need a crystal ball to predict that he would become public enemy number one should this deal go through. 

Tim Cronin is a Rugby fan and full time writer based in the rubble of the Canterbury Crusader's home town, Christchurch. Tim is a part of the Pukeko Sports team, where his role is watching, writing, and complaining about all things rugby.

 © JL Pagano 2012

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