England Rugby – Don’t Keep your Shirt on!

The new England Rugby shirts have been the subject of some considerable controversy since they were revealed a couple of weeks ago. For some inexplicable reason the RFU thought it would be a spiffing idea to use the Victoria Cross symbol all over the new shirt. Just in case no one at Twickenham is aware – the Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration and is awarded for outstanding valour in the face of the enemy. Since it was introduced in 1856 it has only been awarded 1,357 times to 1,354 individuals. Obviously they are aware now – since they have been exposed to contempt and ridicule by most of the media – and not just in the rugby columns.

Facing the Haka or a 17 stone charging Samoan wing may give you pause,but it hardly qualifies to be compared to winning the ultimate award for bravery.

I mean – what were they thinking? – who does the marketing and PR for the RFU? Didn’t anyone maybe think that this might not be appropriate? It’s right up there with nobody at FIFA wondering if perhaps it isn’t a tad warm in Qatar during the summer.

It’s not like the RFU doesn’t have form in this attempted exploitation – the England 7’s shirt for this season was supposedly inspired by the George Cross – so there can be no cries of “oops sorry, we didn’t know” coming out of HQ (a particularly inappropriate designation in these circumstances).

The shirts are on sale(?) at the RFU site under the copy – ‘This is our shirt, This is our duty, This is our country’ – actually no, it isn’t, it’s a game not war – it’s combative, physical and skilled, but you don’t put your lives on the line like the soldiers who earn a lot less and risk a lot more.

It’s not the players’ fault – responsibility lies with the administrators, who seem desperate to return Twickenham to the time when it was run in Will Carling’s description by ’57 old farts’.

To be honest, as mind numbingly crass as these designs are, there is in fact something even more insidious about the England shirts being constantly changed each season – presumably in the unashamed quest to sell more replica shirts and profit themselves and the sponsor. Isn’t the RFU starting to act more and more like a Premiership football team? The new shirt is available at a bargain £90 a pop – and there’s an away version too, if you’ve just come up trumps on Euromillions. Not only that, there will apparently be another new design for the World Cup – now less than a year away! It’s not like they are particularly impressive designs – the sun glow 7’s shirt made the team look like a bunch of Ronald McDonalds’ and the RFU now seem intent on using either the bloke who works on ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat’ or Stevie Wonder for any new stuff.

The richest Union on the planet should not be looking to exploit their supporters with such shameful and obvious greed – instead look to the best team on the planet – at home they wear black – not with symbols on – just black. Their team play for that one shirt – not a different one that they have to get used to every few months. The Wallabies are strapped for cash but they also have more pride and integrity and similarly wear the ubiquitous gold shirt with obvious pride. England shirts should be plain white – no symbols (except main sponsor, obviously) – White is Right in this case – wake up RFU or you’ll start losing the people. This has been a deliberately serious article, that’s because I feel it is a very serious subject, most of my stuff isn’t as you’ll know if you read my blog at www.rugbyoldbloke.wordpress.com. .


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