England Rugby Are Taking Advantage of the Fans’ Loyalty
The RFU are cashing in on a Rugby World Cup on home soil by bringing out six different England shirts in little more than 15 months. The rampant commercialism prevalent at Twickenham saw England kit suppliers Canterbury launch two shirts, which featured the controversial Victoria Cross motif, last September. These will be followed on to the market by another two World Cup shirts before the start of the tournament in September. And then there will be another double kit launch by England ahead of the 2016 Six Nations. The RFU releases two new England strips every year under their contract with kit-maker, Canterbury, and it has to release another two for the 2015 World Cup because IRB rules state no sponsor names visible. Even Wales, led by their own money-grabbing organisation called the WRU, only releases new strips every other year. The more one looks into the RFU and its exploitation of the England supporter, the more one realises what a disgrace it really is, even if “every penny goes back into the development of the game,” as the RFU have hastily added. What is worse is that it is not as if this grotesque profiteering starts and ends with merchandise. Ticket prices at Twickenham are the highest in the Six Nations, but Iain Ritchie, the RFU chief executive, maintains they are “on the low side”. Yet they do actually seem a veritable bargain when put alongside the average face value of a ticket to watch England in a World Cup pool game at £112.50. The full scope of the RFU’s greed is so easily visible if one looks at Wales versus England, the Six Nations opener, taking place on a Friday night. The RFU had to agree to this, had to assess whether this awful, 8.05pm kick-off would be fair on the traveling supporter who will not be able to get home on public transport that night thus adding expenses on these most faithful of followers. What did they decide? Who cares about the “poor” fans, TV rights are the priority.
There was public unrest when Nike brought out four England football kits in less than a year to take advantage of the 2014 World Cup but now rugby fans are being asked to fork out for even more changes of strip in a similar period, with the shirts being sold at a £50 starting price, going up to £90.99 for an exact replica. A spokesperson for the RFU felt the need to defend their position declaring: “We have brought out one new home and alternate strip for each season, as is normal across the sports industry, for the last five years and the prices have remained unchanged for three years.
It is not the first time the union has been involved in controversy over the England kit in recent months. In September the RFU was forced to apologize after imprinting the Victoria Cross symbol as rubber grips on jerseys, after the chairman of the Victoria Cross Trust criticized the use of the image by the organization for marketing purposes. England have also worn a number of unorthodox colors in recent years including a black shirt at the 2011 World Cup and purple during the 2012 autumn internationals. Let’s just hope this all leads to somewhere nice for the fans, like a 6Nations World Cup double!