Money-grubbing demeans England

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From Mr Gregory Shenkman.

Sir, So Sophie Goldschmidt was the Rugby Football Union executive who condemned England to playing in purple two weeks ago against a weaker Australian team, to which it lost (“Drive for bottom line divides rugby fans”, December 1). On the day of your article, playing in its proper national colours, England destroyed a New Zealand team that had not lost a game for a record 20 matches and was suggested as perhaps the best team of all time.

Ms Goldschmidt should reflect. The RFU is not raising “more money than ever before” because it has played in purple once. Ms Goldschmidt made her greatest commercial impact in basketball, a garish sport built on commercialism and alien to this country. Rugby is different; and England has no link with purple. Its national teams normally play in white, but sometimes in blue and/or red. These colours all have obvious historical resonance for the English. They drive the passion in players and supporters alike.

The RFU has been selling the national strip for years, but it had previously had the common sense to retain its essential English elements. The RFU has a duty to safeguard the national team’s reputation and to avoid humiliating it on the altar of commercialism. Is the RFU ashamed of our national colours? Other leading rugby teams such as New Zealand, South Africa and Australia are proud of theirs and play in the same strip every time. As your report points out, in New Zealand, it is highly controversial even to besmirch the fabled black strip with a simple commercial logo.

Purple should be abandoned forever. The RFU should focus on trying to build an even better team, not on alienating England’s supporters. The purple strip is no more than a cheap clothes-marketing exercise. It demeans England for money-grubbing of this kind to be permitted at the national level. England will not win the World Cup in 2015 if it is dressed in purple.

Gregory Shenkman, London W8, UK

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