Latest issue
Online newsletter
Product Knowledge
Rugby World Cup 2015 | Replica | Sales‘Bok fans turned the ‘BokTown’ at Montecasino green during RWC matches ... although not everybody wore the RWC shirt.
November 2015

Brands play hard at

the IRB World Cup

Up to a week before the semi-final, Springbok fans were showing their support by searching for green jerseys, as retailers were fast running out of stock in the lead-up to what could be a wonderful surprise ending to one of the most unpredictable World Cup’s ever ... by now you know how it ended after we went to print. But, many other brands were also in play during this nailbiting tournament

As probably the most unpredictable IRB (International Rugby Board)World Cup ever was nearing the final, retailers were faced with the difficult choice: to be grateful that their Springbok World Cup jerseys had sold out, or should they scramble to find more stock ... just in case the ‘Bokke made it through to the final and the green and gold hysteria of 2007 is repeated.

Sports Trader unfortunately had to go to print in the week before the semi-final against New Zealand. It was therefore not possible to judge whether the same level of ‘Bokke fever erupted as in the week before the final in 2007, which culminated in a mad scramble to find jerseys with any kind of Springbok insignia as it dawned on supporters that our team could be the winners.

With so many upsets and surprises during this World Cup, it was simply impossible to predict any outcome in the semi- and final. After all, who would have predicted that England wouldn’t make it past the Pool stages, that not one Northern hemisphere team would make it past the quarter-final, or that Japan would beat the Springboks?

We can, however, report that on the Monday after South Africa beat Wales in the quarter finals, fans were already having a hard time finding a RWC Springbok jersey ... unless they were extra large or a child. Supporters were clearly donning the green and gold — and even the white Away jersey. Sports Trader’s Mystery Shopper contacted twenty big retail stores that normally stock replica ... and only one could supply the R599 top end green replica as well as R299 supporters’ jersey in a variety of sizes.

Most retailers only had limited stock in odd sizes left, and about half of them were completely sold out of the green replica — although a few had some of the white Away jerseys left in odd sizes.

A few retailers still had some ABSA non-World Cup Springbok jerseys left, but about half had no stock left.

It therefore looked as if retailers could be heading for a repeat of the 2007 final scramble as most of the additional stock ASICS had ready for re-orders had been sold by the week before the semi and only some broken size curves were left.

“But, there was still a mixture of RWC branded stock available,” says ASICS SA Operations Manager Craig White. Apart from kids sizes there was “plenty of other green and gold items to purchase across supporters and replica” a week before the semi.

You have the benefit of hindsight to know how this panned out ... and whether ASICS SA was able to print the special edition 2015 RWC Champions T-shirt they were planning.

Contrasting boots

But, on the field ASICS (South Africa and Australia) was facing a different competition in the semis: from adidas in the form of the All Blacks and Nike, in the form of Argentina.

The colourful boots worn by the Springboks were in sharp contrast to the All Blacks’ all black look — from head to toe. The new Black- out rugby boot range had been designed in collaboration with some All Black team members and feature four different styles that are ideal for specific positions.

The Predator Incurza (above) is aimed at fly-halves, full backs and other kickers; the lightweight Crazyquick Malice is for wingers, centres and other fast-moving players; FF80 is aimed at flankers and those who’ll appreciate the additional stud on the toe for extra grip in scrums; and the Kakari offers additional support and power to props and second-rows.

The adidas players in the Springbok final team — Bismarck du Plessis, Bryan Habana, Damian de Allende and JP Pietersen — took to the field in a much more colourful version.

In the Springbok team, Eben Etsebeth, Tendai Mtawarira and Frans Malherbe were playing in ASICS from head to toe. As did the Aussies Stephen Moore, James Slipper, Kane Douglas, Dean Mumm, Rob Simmons, Nick Philips, Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale, Matt Toomua, Israel Folau, Rob Horne and Henry Speight.

The PUMA Duality boots in striking orange (one foot) and blue (other foot) was one of the talking points of the tournament and caused a bit of confusion ... a talk show host actually thought the boots were from two suppliers: one from ASICS as the technical team sponsor and one from PUMA as the players’ boot sponsor. For the players there was no doubt which boot belonged on whose foot as they had their names printed on their boots. Apart from captain Fourie du Preez, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Victor Matfield and Willem Alberts played in PUMA evoSPEED or evoPOWER boots.

Handré Pollard’s Mizuno boot was responsible for earning all his kicking points. Mizuno also kitted out the whole Namibian team in their bright yellow Morelia Neo Mix boots.

Other RWC products

Apart from boot and team shirt suppliers, there were several other brands in play at the World Cup.

As technical sponsor of the IRB, Canterbury was very visible on all the apparel worn by the referees and other officials. In addition, they sponsor the kit worn by Ireland, Namibia, surprise team Japan and hosts England.

They also partnered with other IRB sponsors in initiatives around the World Cup — for example, the South African team joined forces with Landrover and Heineken who donated 20 000 Canterbury rugby balls to communities on their way between South Africa and the World Cup in England. They also provided Landrover dealership staff with Canterbury World Cup gear and had been involved in their development clinics.

As the official 2015 IRB World Cup ball supplier, Gilbert not only supplied the official balls used during the tournament, but also provided replica supporter balls in the flag colours of participating countries.

Following their shock defeat of South Africa, Gilbert promoted the Japan ball by inviting retailers to Get behind everyone’s new adopted team with a Japan flag ball! Sports Trader was rather surprised to receive an email urging us to Join the giant killers by ordering a Japan ball while we were still smarting from the defeat.

Gilbert marketing director Richard Gray did, however, apologise profusely for an over-zealous sales person erroneously sending out the sales offer aimed at the UK public to their international database for information. “It in no way represents the position of Gilbert. It is unfortunate that this was released. As you know, Gilbert is a long established sponsor of SA Rugby and is very proud to be associated with the team.” They also sponsor Japan.

Mouthguard brand Opro, locally distributed by Brand ID, protected the smiles of the teams from New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, England, Fiji, US and Romania, as well as some individual players at the World Cup.

They also sold Flag Edition mouthguards (see Wales right) with specific country branding for die-hard fans who wanted to show their loyalty in unusual places.

Brand campaigns

Brands also used the power of social media to generate excitement around the World Cup. ASICS SA launched the #BokNomination Challenge, urging South Africans to wear their green and gold on BokFridays to show support for the national rugby squad.

Participants could either nominate a friend to accept the challenge, or accept a nomination, by uploading a short social media video. They had to accept or issue the nomination while wearing their green and gold and also had to catch a rugby ball, which they had to pass on to at least three others by tagging their posts with @ASICS_ZA with #BokNomination and #BoksInASICS.

Compression brand Skins, who had partnered with teams like Australia, Tonga, Samoa and USA Rugby (USAR) to supply active, recovery and travel compression garments, also launched a social media campaign, #myotherTEAM, complete with supporter badges.

They decided to urge fans to support an underdog team when their team was not playing.The compression brand, locally distributed by Brand ID, decided to back the Pacific Island teams Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, which don’t have the same financial advantages as other teams, but make up for it with pride, passion and flair, says the Australian chairman Jamie Fuller. “Imagine rugby without the people of the Pacific Islands, it just wouldn’t be the same.”

Thirty percent of the players who participated in this year’s World Cup have a Pacific Island heritage, although they account for only 15% of teams, he says. “The combined population of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji is just 1.2 million people. In fact, the entire population of Tonga could fit inside Twickenham stadium!”

*Read our copyright notice before making use of this article

© SA Sports Trader