The South African Rugby Union (Saru) tried to quell the fire in a statement on Monday after widespread criticism of the design of the alternative Springbok jersey.
“As much as we’d like to, we can’t play every game in the green and gold,” said a spokesperson for Saru. “The alternative color is white, but Nike (who sponsors the shirts) suggested we improve the usual look with a modern design inspired by a variety of sources and appealing to a new, wider audience.”
The spokesperson says the design is partially influenced by Ndebele designs and the color is indicative of the South African landscape and flora. “It was presented to senior members of the Springboks team, who approved it.”
Several supporters, former players and current Springboks have been vocal over the past week about the new design, which is intended to make it easier for people with color blindness to follow the game. A new policy adopted by World Rugby means that players must now play in a team’s alternative jerseys more often.
That is why South Africa will not play against Ireland this coming Saturday in the traditional rugby jersey. However, the “hyper-jade green” jersey is also too close to Ireland’s color rugby jersey, therefore the Boks will play in white jerseys against the Irish.
“Should South Africa make it to the play-offs, and if they are drawn as ‘team B’ against a team with similar colored jerseys, the Springboks will wear the hyperjade green as the first alternative,” says the spokesperson.
He says sports teams’ kits are designed by their respective manufacturers and approved by the relevant federation. “In this case, the designs of all the Nike jerseys were presented to Saru and it received the necessary approval from senior Springbok leaders as well as management members of Saru.”