Recent news has come to light about a potential jersey sponsorship deal between the NZRU and insurance giant AIG. While the NZRU CEO Steve Tew was unable to elaborate on the details of the discussions so far, he did reiterate the need for more funding.
A deal that sees the AIG logo placed front and center on the All Black jersey is likely to incite a great deal of anger from the rugby public. Indeed the name that is synonymous with New Zealand Rugby, and even New Zealand in general will seem more then a little pointless should a logo be placed front and center on the famous jersey.
Unfortunately New Zealand rugby does, like every other professional entity, need money in order to survive. However in a country with such a small population, the All Blacks are truly a team that the fans connect with on a personal level. While Tew and co might be making decisions based on sound business, on a spiritual level its fair to say that the choice is certainly not theirs to make alone.
The recent success of the World Cup has helped the already powerful All Blacks brand. The aura surrounding the name and team has become even more well known. Surely the name itself shouldn’t be made to look silly all for the sake of a sponsorship deal, when there is plenty of potential and other opportunities for a contributor to place their logos else where; on training uniforms, jackets, the team bus and so on.
Another consideration is the adidas contract with the NZRU. There may or may not be room for a sponsor to take place front and center on a jersey – that adidas has respected while it also continues to develop and maintain a modern appeal and style. They would be well within their rights to complain should anything more then the discrete logo they use on the jersey be allowed.
If the people at AIG have approached the NZRU with the objective of getting their name front and center of the All Blacks jersey, then the rugby fans in New Zealand will be well within their rights to feel aggrieved and utterly disappointed in the NZRU team for allowing the most admired and adored representation of their country to be plundered in such a way.
For many it would be like Coca Cola paying Queen Elizabeth to print their image on the royal crown. In New Zealand, where rugby is more important to many than religion, defacing the All Blacks jersey even for the good of the game, is nothing short of sacrilege