All Blacks break with tradition

The All Blacks jersey will have the three letters of new sponsor AIG on the front for the next five years, starting from next week’s Bledisloe Cup match in Brisbane.

The sponsorship deal with the US-based insurance company – which also takes in the NZ Maori, NZ Sevens, Black Ferns, Women’s Sevens and U20 national teams – was confirmed at a press conference in Auckland.

‘This is a great day for New Zealand rugby,’ said NZRU chief executive Steve Tew. ‘This is an exciting new partnership that will further secure the future of rugby at all levels in this country and pave the way for our game to reach new fans around the world. Today’s announcement is a game changer for New Zealand rugby.’

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said the new sponsorship arrangement had his support.

‘It’s really flattering that a company this big has chosen New Zealand rugby to be its cornerstone sponsorship. It shows incredible respect for our traditions, heritage and record of success across all our teams. This will really help make our game stronger right from the community game to the All Blacks so this is great news for rugby.’

The AIG logo on the All Blacks jersey is just under one third the size of the maximum allowed under IRB guidelines.

‘This is not a decision we have taken lightly. Like all New Zealanders we greatly respect the rich and proud heritage of the black jersey, which is why NZRU consulted with senior players and others as we carefully weighed up this latest move,’ Tew said.