England have confirmed they are switching kit partners from Canterbury to Umbro from next September in a four-year deal believed to be worth more than the current £5million a year it gets. It was during the World Cup in Japan – at a time when the English kit was enjoying record sales in a run to the tournament final – that speculation about the deal first emerged in the Daily Mail suggesting Umbro would beat adidas to the punch. That is what has now transpired.
It will be interesting, though, how the Umbro brand is received in rugby circles, starting with the 2020 autumn internationals if those matches proceed as planned despite the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Umbro are a subsidiary of Iconix Brand Group, the US clothing company which bought the brand from Nike for $225m in 2012.
The sports clothing manufacturer has traditions with rugby, supplying kit to England and the British and Irish Lions in the 1980s. However, as reported by sportsbusiness.com, it has done little big business in the sport in the past decade, it’s major prominence in England stemming instead from their lengthy deal with the England football team from 1984 to 2013.
England were due to finish up their tie-in with Canterbury by wearing their products on the July tour to Japan but with that trip set to be called off due to the virus, it means that Canterbury’s last outing with England was the March Guinness Six Nations win over Wales.
England rugby’s chief commercial officer Simon Massie-Taylor said: “We are delighted to be entering this new chapter with Umbro as official technical kit partner from September and welcome them into the England rugby family. Umbro has a rich heritage supporting English sports and share our values in dedication to high performance and innovation. We look forward to unveiling the new kit later this year.”
Umbro managing director Anthony Little added: “The partnership between Umbro and England rugby from September is a seminal chapter in our history. The first time the England rugby team runs out onto the pitch, wearing the double-diamond logo, will be a proud moment for us as an English brand.
“Modern rugby is demanding but our approach at Umbro has always been to make sure our kits are fit for purpose and we have been working tirelessly to ensure that we meet those demands and deliver a kit that will perform for England rugby.”
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