#1
The mighty New Zealand rugby union team is nicknamed the All Blacks because of the way they play in black shirts, black shorts and black socks.

The new nickname for England, though, could be the Almost Blacks.

Yesterday, England broke 139 years of tradition - during which they have worn white shirts, white shorts and white socks - by wearing a strange-looking kit of a colour that has been described as "anthracite".

This is despite the fact that teams usually wear their change kit either when they play away from home or when there is a colour clash.

Neither of those applied yesterday as they played at their home stadium against the yellow-clad Australians.

Enraged fans said the move was a marketing ploy and called for the traditional white tops to be reinstated for home matches and expressed fears that the game would follow football by becoming too commercialised.

Chi Kavindele, 25, an events manager from Kingston, Surrey, who watched England in action at Twickenham, said: ‘It’s a rip-off and indicative of the sport as a whole. 90 is a lot of money and a lot more than a new football shirt. Why aren’t England wearing white at home?’

However, the anthracite kits did nothing to affect the England players themselves. They put in a stunning performance - probably their best since they beat Australia in the 2003 World Cup Final when England were the best team in the world - to beat Australia 35-18. Chris Ashton scored what was surely one of the greatest tries ever scored in a rugby international. Not only did it equal England's biggest-ever winning margin over Australia, but it was the first time England have ever scored more than 32 points in a game against them.

England have traditionally played in all white since 1871, when they played Scotland in the world's first rugby international.

The Almost Blacks: England rugby fans' anger as team ditch white for 'anthracite' - but at least they trash the Aussies

By Christopher Leake
14th November 2010
Daily Mail

Rugby chiefs were last night accused of exploiting loyal fans by charging up to 90 to buy a new dark-grey England shirt that the team wore against Australia yesterday.

Enraged fans said the move was a marketing ploy and called for the traditional white tops to be reinstated for home matches.

They expressed fears that the game would follow football by becoming too commercialised.



England's Chris Ashton in action yesterday in the new 'anthracite' shirt, with poppy on the sleeve

Football clubs have frequently been accused of changing kits every year, and even during the season, to generate vast revenues.

Chi Kavindele, 25, an events manager from Kingston, Surrey, who watched England in action at Twickenham, said: ‘It’s a rip-off and indicative of the sport as a whole. 90 is a lot of money and a lot more than a new football shirt. Why aren’t England wearing white at home?’

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has turned its back on nearly 140 years of history by replacing England’s traditional white jersey with the top officially described as ‘anthracite’.

It predicts it will make 2 million from sales of the new shirt.

England have appeared in the last two Rugby World Cup Finals, in 2003 and 2007. In 2003, during a part of the decade when England were without doubt the strongest team on the planet, they beat Australia 20-17 and in 2007 they lost 15-6 South Africa. Yesterday's performance may be ominous for the rest of the world ahead of next year's tournament.

There would have been no clash of traditional colours when England beat the Australians 35-18 yesterday, but that didn’t stop the RFU changing kits.

During the match the referee regularly referred to England players as ‘black’ when making rulings.

Fan Daniel Higgins, 47, a construction consultant from Kent, said he was apprehensive about the new strip. He said: ‘When England play at Twickenham it has to be in white. You know this is England when you see those white jerseys. It looks like a marketing ploy. Grey is just not England.’


Chris Ashton scored one of the greatest tries seen at Twickenham as England crushed Australia in fabulous style.

England’s rugby players have played wearing white since 1871.

But RFU business operations director Paul Vaughan defended the controversial decision.

He insisted the RFU was not undermining England’s identity, but responding to public demand and generating vital revenue streams to help grow the game.

He said: ‘We try to maintain our traditions and white is the shirt we generally play in.

But we have to modernise and meet public demand. We played in our change strip to tell people it is there.’

On a more positive note, England’s players sported a poppy on the right sleeve of their shirts to support the Royal British Legion on the eve of Remembrance Sunday.

England captain Lewis Moody and Aussie skipper Rocky Elsom also donated their match shirts to aid the Legion and the RFU’s Injured Players’ Foundation.

dailymail.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Nov 14th, 2010 at 03:06 PM..