Rugby followers are not usually renowned for having a cutting edge fashion sense, but Scotland supporters are being given the chance to change that reputation for the better by submitting designs for new strip for the national team.
The offer was made yesterday as the Scottish Rugby Union confirmed that it had signed the biggest single sponsorship deal in its history by agreeing a four-year kit supply deal, believed to be worth around £5m, with the Italian sportswear company Macron. The new arrangement replaces a long-standing deal with Canterbury of New Zealand and will come into force in July. It covers all Scotland's representative teams as well as the Edinburgh and Glasgow professional sides.
Although they have provided Edinburgh's kit for the past three seasons, Macron are still relatively little-known in the UK rugby market. However, the company is the official supplier to a number of leading British and European football clubs, including Napoli, Lazio, Monaco and West Ham. It also works with top European teams in basketball, volleyball and handball. "We've been very impressed by Macron," said Dominic McKay, the Union's director of commercial operations. "We've had the pleasure of working with them as kit supplier to Edinburgh Rugby for the past three years.
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"Their ranges display traditional Italian flair and they work in close collaboration with players to take on board their opinions to provide innovation and any little advantage that can be gained through kit design. Scotland will be Macron's lead brand in world rugby and will enable Macron to grow its brand on a global basis."
Chris Paterson, Scotland's record cap holder with 109 test appearances to his name, welcomed the new suppliers on board, stressing the importance of the kit as a motif of the country as a whole. "Scots, the world over, take great pride in the team jersey," said Paterson, who retired from international rugby after the last World Cup. "It's so much more than a piece of fabric. It symbolises Scotland and all our heritage and tradition. For me there was always a duty to fill the jersey and enhance that pride. It's great that Scotland supporters will have the chance to influence the new jersey when Macron becomes Scottish Rugby's official kit supplier in July."
Craig Docherty, currently chief executive of Edinburgh, is to take over responsibility for managing the relationship with the new supplier. Docherty's background is in sports goods retailing. It is understood a new chief executive will be appointed for the capital club in due course.
The move to involve supporters in the new shirt is at least in part an attempt to address fans' disquiet over previous redesigns, the most notorious of which saw Scotland players take the field sporting bright orange – or 'mandarin' as it was officially billed – strips for a number of games in the late 1990s.
Supporters who wish to offer their artistic efforts up for consideration can send their kit designs to firstname.lastname@example.org.