The furore over the supposedly inflated price of the new All Blacks rugby jersey is a bloody nonsense. So Adidas is being accused of gouging at a time that interest is going to be sky-high in the All Blacks jersey, especially since they are confirming their favouritism for the 2011 William Webb Ellis Trophy- the Rugby World Cup. I imagine that the manufacturers of other nations’ tournament jerseys have also inflated their wholesale prices, albeit to a lesser extent given lesser likelihood of the jersey being on the backs of World Champions? That the jersey can be bought online at a cheaper price isn’t surprising in the least- online shops will not have the same overheads and associated costs that a store on Lambton Quay would have, and probably neither do they have the desire for similar profit margins as the store on Lambton Quay (or anywhere else in retail NZ), or, being based overseas, the sense of nationalism. I doubt anybody would be able to show me that at any other time of the year over the decades that replica playing strips have been available in NZ shops that the All Black jersey has been priced at the same cost as, say, Australia, England or South Africa. We have always been asked to pay more for our national jersey, and arguably, so we should- we have to pay for national pride.

My short answer to the whole argument is- “If you don’t like the price, don’t buy the product.” Buyer beware?

Where the sense of ‘nonsense’ comes in is the passion that has been generated (in New Zealand) by the cost issue with outraged New Zealanders almost all overlooking the fact that without the sponsorship of Adidas ‘grassroots’ rugby would be pretty much buggered. Our national rugby administration is unable to generate the sort of income that would allow it to support the nursery level rugby to the extent it is able to do through the millions of dollars Adidas has undertaken to do in exchange for the right to produce the (arguably) best rugby team in the world (despite the fact that they have only ever been World Champion once since the World Cup has been contested. Of course based on performances against other international teams over decades few can argue the ABs have consistently been #1.)  I think there is some danger that, should the bad press continue, and Adidas is abused and abused, they would seriously consider withdrawing their sponsorship- it’s not as if they can’t afford to be without the All Blacks!

Being the sponsors of them IS an advantage, of course to divert international focus, at least for rugby nations from the disgraceful record of exploitation that Adidas have been accused of. They have supposedly got significant questions to answer both in the area of human exploitation- sweated labour, and also environmentally- toxic waste discharge into natural waterways. Rugby fans find it much more convenient to overlook any indiscretions by firms such as Adidas than to try to rationalise their wearing of branded clothing produced by them. The jersey price issue became an uproar in New Zealand. The discussion or protest over questions of humanitarian and environmental responsibility by Adidas is almost unheard.


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