Gregor Paul 's Opinion

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul: No need to get shirty over deal

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The All Blacks already have a corporate logo on their jersey. Photo / Getty Images
The All Blacks already have a corporate logo on their jersey. Photo / Getty Images

Some crazy claims were made in the world of rugby last week, starting with Scotland unveiling a strategic goal to win the next World Cup and ending in reports that a corporate logo would imminently be emblazoned on the All Black jersey.

Incredibly, a Scottish win is more likely to happen. Facts have a nasty habit of getting in the way of a good story but some folk can be right sticklers for old-fashioned things like accuracy, and when that's injected into the mix, it tends to distort the picture in the most peculiar ways: like making something patently not true.

A bit of background first: shock, horror, the All Blacks already have a corporate logo on their jersey and have had since 1999 when adidas signed a significant deal.

There is some confusion with their status. They are more than the apparel manufacturer: adidas effectively owns the All Black jersey.

The terms of the existing deal between adidas and the New Zealand Rugby Union are clear - adidas have the right to veto any other corporate logo appearing on the jersey.

And, if they agreed to any other company appearing on the jersey, including American insurance giant AIG who are supposedly on the cusp of signing a deal, adidas would almost certainly revise the value of their existing contract.

They are locked into the All Blacks until 2019 and while the value of the deal has never been made public, it is by some distance the biggest contract in world rugby.

If AIG or any other company want to even begin talks about having their name on the jersey, they would need a bare minimum of $10 million a season. To have any chance of striking a deal, they'd need to be committing $20 million-plus a year for a minimum five years.

But even then, there would be no guarantee of a deal being signed off. The NZRU can be accused of many things, as indeed can adidas, but beyond question is the depth of respect both have shown the jersey.

The integrity of the strip has been maintained - the All Blacks of today play in a respectful modern version of the jersey they wore more than 100 years ago. Australia have had some God-awful outfits in the past two decades; England have played in purple, Wales luminous yellow, Scotland vomit-orange. Brewers, banks and airlines of various repute have all been able to buy a slice of exposure.

New Zealand have added an extra white stripe to their socks and as an example of how seriously adidas take any alterations to the jersey, they fretted for the better part of a year - consulting widely with the players - about re-introducing the white collar last year. And that was a historic and original feature.

So back to those crazy claims: AIG is one of several parties in talks with the NZRU about a range of commercial possibilities. A deal to put their name on the jersey is not imminent and a more likely conclusion to their engagement is agreeing to sponsor the New Zealand Sevens and New Zealand Maori teams who were both rebranded last month to incorporate the 'All Black' name.

AIG appearing on the jerseys of the All Blacks Sevens and Maori All Blacks - now that could happen. It certainly seems more likely than Scotland winning the next World Cup.

- Herald on Sunday

Gregor Paul

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer. He has written several books on rugby including the Reign of King Henry, Black Obsession and For the Love of the Game.

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