English Rugby
RFU defiant over all-black kit
ESPNscrum Staff
July 15, 2011

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has defended England's controversial decision to wear an all-black kit at this year's World Cup and insists that tournament hosts New Zealand have no problem with design.

The RFU confirmed this afternoon that England will wear a black kit - similar to that of New Zealand - in the first of their World Cup matches against Argentina on September 10. They will wear their traditional white strip in all their remaining group matches but could revert to the black kit later in the tournament.

Designers came up with the idea of a black kit to replace the current grey, or 'anthracite', shirt 18 months ago and, mindful of New Zealand's historic association with the colour, approached the country's officials to seek their approval. The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) has no qualms with England wearing the strip, which will be unveiled in August and costs around £90.

England, who wore a controversial purple change strip in 2009, will wear the black kit for the first time in the team's opening warm-up game for the tournament against Wales on August 6. They will revert to their traditional white strip for the reverse fixture at the Millennium Stadium the week after and their match against Ireland in Dublin a fortnight later before heading to New Zealand.

The RFU are confident that the host nation's fans will not be offended by England wearing an all-black strip - the first time they have done so in their history - and insist the money raised from shirt sales will be put to good use. An RFU spokesperson said: "England are obliged by the Rugby World Cup participation agreement to have a change strip.

"We have worked with Nike on producing a shirt that complies with Rugby World Cup and International Rugby Board regulations and, fully aware of the significance of a black shirt to New Zealand's players and population as a whole, we have fully consulted with the NZRU, who confirmed they had no issues.

"England will therefore wear the black change shirt against Argentina at the Otago Stadium in Dunedin on September 10 due to a clash with the light blue and white of the Pumas. They will wear their white home shirt in their other World Cup pool matches.

"We believe the black shirt will be very popular with supporters as previous change shirts, such as purple and anthracite in November 2009 and 2010 respectively, have been. To that end England will wear the black shirt against Wales at Twickenham Stadium on August 6, giving supporters chance to see and purchase the change strip, revenues from which will be ploughed back into the grassroots of the game as part of the Rugby Football Union's £20m-plus investment in the sport each year.

"England will wear their white home strip against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on August 13 and against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on August 27."

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