Superhero kit experiment: 0 from 2 so far in 2019
Cape Town - Just two weeks into Super Rugby 2019, South Africa's Marvel Superhero kits have made headlines for the wrong reasons.
Ahead of the tournament, SA Rugby announced that all local derbies would see the South African franchises clad in their heavily-marketed strips that are based on some of the most recognisable superheroes in the world.
It was an initiative that was met by a largely positive response as over 50 000 people flooded into Cape Town Stadium for 'Superhero Sunday' on February 3 to watch the Lions (Spider-Man) battle the Sharks (Black Panther) and then the Bulls (Captain America) take on the Stormers (Thor).
Then, for some reason, the Stormers opted against wearing their 'Thor' strip in the first game of the season when they were hammered 40-3 by the Bulls at Loftus two weekends ago.
It was a decision that tournament sponsors Vodacom labelled "disappointing" on social media.
This past weekend, however, the Stormers did pull on their Marvel kits for a home clash against the Lions at Newlands.
Almost immediately after kick-off, though, spectators both at the stadium and at home took to social media to vent at the clashes of the kits.
Stormers captain Siya Kolisi confirmed after the match that the players themselves could not tell the difference between the jerseys, and it resulted in the Stormers changing their kit at half-time.
So, 0 from 2 so far in 2019 for a venture that was very clearly aimed at getting youngsters through the stadium gates.
There is the potential for more confusion this weekend, too, with two more local derbies taking place.
A colour clash between the Sharks (black) and the Stormers (blue and white) is unlikely, but at Ellis Park the battle between the Lions and the Bulls will see the blue and red of 'Spider-Man' and 'Captain America' potentially cause problems.
Sport24 contacted SA Rugby on Tuesday, and it was confirmed that a kit clash is not anticipated and that the plan to play all local derbies in the Marvel kits was still in place.
New Zealand referee Paul Williams does, however, have the option of making a call on the day if he feels that the strips will be problematics.
Marvel, meanwhile, would not be drawn into commenting on the confusion of the first two weeks of the tournament.
"We are pleased at the response of the fans, Vodacom Super Rugby franchises and participating organisations alike at this unique collaboration, a first for the African continent," a member of the Walt Disney Company told Sport24 via email.
"We are aware and supportive of the fact that the franchises themselves have sponsorship commitments, one of the results of which saw the DHL Stormers wearing their non-Marvel branded shirts in their first derby match of the season.
"We will continue to work with all stakeholders involved in making this initiative as exciting as possible for viewers and spectators."
SA Rugby further confirmed that the kits had been designed by Marvel themselves in collaboration with the respective kit manufacturers.
Saturday's clash between the Lions and Bulls kicks off at 15:05.