Blog: Leonie BarrieRugby’s ripping yarns

Leonie Barrie | 22 October 2003

The sleek new Nike-designed jerseys worn by the English and South African Rugby World Cup teams have scored a few penalties of their own after players literally ripped the shirts from each other’s backs.

The tight-fitting hi-tech garments are made from Dri-Fit stretch-woven ripstop, a lightweight mix of Lycra, cotton and polyester, and are supposed to be harder for opponents to grab in a tackle. However, spectators at the week-end watched many of the garments rip to shreds on the pitch as the physical exertions of the game took their toll. Nike says it isn’t to blame, since "ripping of shirts is nothing new to the game of rugby," but investigations must surely be underway.

The new shirts might not be popular with players, but off the pitch the frequent jersey changes are drawing legions of women fans to the game. Total merchandising for the Rugby World Cup is expected to reach $100 million in sales – with around 65 per cent of this being generated by apparel lines. And up to 35 per cent of this is women's clothing. Savvy retailers take note.

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