England set to unveil black kit
July 15, 2011
England winger sports his side's 'anthracite' kit during their victory over Australia at Twickenham last year © Getty Images
England are set to cause controversy with an all black strip at this year's Rugby World Cup.
Martin Johnson's side are reportedly set to debut the new change kit next month when they step up their World Cup preparations against Wales and Ireland with the headline-grabbing jersey also set to be used for the tournament opener against Argentina in Dunedin on September 10.
The kit, due to be unveiled by long-term partner Nike on August 1, is officially England's away strip but reports suggest it could be used extensively in New Zealand later this year instead of the usual all white kit. England's training kit for the sport's showpiece event will also reportedly have a Kiwi-flavour with the traditional red rose surrounded by ancient Maori symbols.
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key welcomed the news by calling England a bunch of "wannabees" for entertaining the idea. "I think it's a bunch of wannabes actually, there's only one team that wears black with pride and that's the All Blacks," he told 3 News.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw played down the issue when asked for his opinion on the commercially-driven decision. "If it comes down to what colour you wear determines how you play, then we've got trouble," he said. "That's the attitude we've got to have. What will be, will be. It would be nice to be in black, but if we're not, well, you just get on with it."
Martin Snedden, chief executive of tournament organisers RNZ2011, thinks that New Zealanders and the All Blacks should see the move as a compliment. "The All Blacks should take it as a compliment to them, ourselves," he said. "As a country believe in the power of the jersey, the power of the black, and maybe that is what England is trying to get their hands on."
Veteran Kiwi TV commentator Keith Quinn was not impressed. "Of all the colours in the rainbow, why would they choose the colour of the host nation?" he told the Dominion Post. "They are thumbing their noses at a New Zealand tradition. It's bizarre."
The kit will reportedly debut against Wales at Twickenham on August 6 before their return match in Cardiff the following weekend. It will also be worn in Dublin for their last warm-up game against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on August 27.
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