Why can’t we get rugby or league jerseys with numbers on the back, wonders Jamie Wall.
All across the sports world, it’s pretty much common practice to make individual player number jerseys available for rabid fans to buy. So why do the two main footy codes in the Southern Hemisphere refuse to do it? It’s a real mystery.
The selling points are numerous:
1 Every kid wants to be one of the players on the team, but some probably want to be more than one. So you can sell multiple jerseys (in the Warriors’ case multiple on top of the multiple different designs they’ve already got that season).
2 For every kid out there having one bought for them, there’ll be a middle-aged guy who still harbours the same sort of idolatry. These are the same middle-aged guys who’ll also buy a certain player’s jersey for their wives and girlfriends as self-indulgent gifts, as they once overheard them mention said player’s name.
3 Most of the jerseys sold will be the glamour positions: 10, 7 etc. But you’ve always go the section of society that wants to be different, so you’ll be sure to see plenty of tighthead prop or second row numbers. Plus there’s the hipster types that’ll be wearing the number of “a guy who’s really awesome, but you wouldn’t have heard of them yet… (because they’re still in reserve grade)”.
4 Effigies. For when you absolutely, truly, 100% need to show your disdain at a guy who has been paid to provide you with enjoyment, you can’t go past burning a straw likeness of them. But to do a good job, your effigy needs to be identifiable, plus be able to not offend any team mates. In fact, a personalised jersey means you can forgo the effigy altogether, if time is of the essence.
5 Because it’s stupid not to. You can still sell plain ones, if that’s what some people want! But you can charge more for a cheap, iron-on digit or two. Don’t you want our money? You’ve got a captive market, Super Rugby teams and the Warriors. Sell the ones belonging to whoever got Man Of The Match when the fans leave the stadium. Bump up the price of star new signings. Retire a number and make it the one that ‘true’ fans get. Really tap into the ‘Full Kit Wanker’ demographic.
Oh, and the All Blacks: now you don’t have to scrounge around for some lame concept like the #BlackestJerseyEver campaign. You now can tell people you’ve actually made a significant change to their jersey buying experience other than putting the name of a bailed-out American company on the front.
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.