AIG Reportedly Inks New Zealand Rugby Union Jersey Sponsorship
The New Zealand Rugby Union is "refusing to confirm or deny a report that a sponsor's logo could be emblazoned on the famous black jersey," according to the AP. AIG is "in negotiations with the NZRU to place their logo on the front of the playing strip, which has been free of advertising since the All Blacks began playing in the late 1880s." The All Blacks are "one of the few international rugby teams without a large front-of-jersey sponsor." The NZRU "refused to comment on the issue" earlier this week but "their stance softened a little after Jed Thian, who runs the Alternative Rugby Commentary website, spoke about an impending sponsorship deal" with AIG Thursday on Radio New Zealand. NZRU CEO Steve Tew in a statement said, "We are discussing opportunities with a number of potential sponsors across a range of categories. ... But let's be clear adidas is our principal partner and that contract extends to 2019 and underpins rugby in this country." The AP reports AIG has "signed a five-year deal which includes logos on the All Blacks' shorts and shirt sleeves." The All Blacks "have had a shirt sponsor in the past, with Steinlager emblazoned on the right side of the jersey during the mid-90s." Currently, adidas has a "small logo on the right breast, opposite the silver fern on the left" (AP, 7/6). Former All Blacks player Chris Laidlaw said, "It's the one thing that is sacrosanct. It's a comedown to have an American insurance company on it." He added that the NZRU "was cash-strapped and casting around for money." Laidlaw said aligning with AIG "smacks of commercialism." Laidlaw: "It would take away some of the magic of the All Blacks" (TARANAKI DAILY NEWS, 7/6).