Cape Town - The Springboks will wear a limited-edition alternate jersey in the red of the South African flag in their match against the Pumas in Salta on August 26, SA Rugby announced on Tuesday.
The striking jersey has been commissioned to mark the 25th anniversary of rugby unity in South Africa. Only a limited number of replica jerseys will be available in stores from Wednesday, August 9.
The red Springbok jersey completes a “jigsaw puzzle” of playing and training apparel that was prepared for use in 2017. The colours of the flag - green, yellow, blue and red, as well as black and white - have all featured in training or playing apparel this year.
“We wanted to mark the 25th anniversary of rugby in South Africa in a striking and memorable way and in partnership with ASICS came up with this bold alternate strip,” said CEO Jurie Roux.
“We chose the colours of the flag as a uniting symbol and believed that red made the boldest statement as a tribute to the achievement of rugby unity, which was completed before democracy arrived in South Africa.”
Roux said that red also provided the strongest contrast to the Springboks’ Rugby Championship rivals. The red colouring is rounded off by a black collar, logos as well as other details.
Brian Kerby, General Manager of ASICS South Africa, said they were excited to reveal the red jersey to Springbok supporters.
“This is definitely a bold statement by us as a brand - to celebrate Springbok rugby for what has been achieved over the past 25 years and also looking ahead towards a positive future for the team,” said Kerby.
Rugby unity was achieved on March 20, 1992 following covert negotiations between the old South African Rugby Board (SARB) and the banned ANC from 1988 onwards.
SARB and the non-racial South African Rugby Union, the South African Rugby Football Federation and the South African Rugby Association came together in 1992 to form the South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) under the joint presidency of Ebrahim Patel (SARU) and Danie Craven (SARB). SARFU’s name was changed to SARU in 2003.
“It was a remarkable achievement to bring all rugby communities together after so many years of division,” said Roux.
“We have made mistakes as a sport; we will not always get it right. But rugby has given South Africa moments of great joy in the past 25 years and proved its supreme capacity to build our nation.”
Roux added that the red jersey was a symbol of the conclusion of one era and the starting of a new one: “It is commonplace for national teams to be creative with their alternate playing kits but it is not something we have done with our white alternate jersey in South Africa before.
“The traditionalists might miss a heartbeat but we need to move with the times as a sport and it’s 111 years since a South African rugby team first wore a white jersey so it’s not something we’ve rushed into. We think this makes a statement, it will definitely be a collector’s item,” said Roux.
The commemorative red Springbok supporters’ jersey will be available at selected sport retail stores from August 9, 2017 for a recommended retail price of R750.