Sportswear giant Nike Inc is investigating how some of its new body-hugging England rugby shirts were ripped to shreds by South African players in a crunch World Cup match at the weekend.

The company launched the probe after several members of the England team had to change their tight-fitting jerseys at half-time due to them being ripped and torn in scrums and tackles.

Although Nike has not received any complaints from the team, it has decided to examine the batch of light-weight shirts worn in order to address the "kit issues" raised by Saturday's game.

Tournament officials are reported to be concerned about the matter as if the backs of the shirts are ripped it could destroy the numbers used to identify players who foul.