Editorial: ABs' jersey tainted for the love of money
This weekend, cheering on the All Blacks as they take on Australia will be slightly different.
Fans will be decked out in their black jerseys, but they'll look quite different from those of the men running out on the field.
That's because it will be the first test match - ever - where an All Black side has played with a sponsor's name slap, bang in the middle of it.
The letters AIG may represent some faceless multinational with a questionable background, but their markings on such a revered jersey go deeper than that.
The name and tradition of the All Blacks is built on more than a century of players and administrators giving their all for the game, and for that black jersey.
It, sadly, is part of the cold, hard reality that the New Zealand Rugby Union faces and is a simple way to make a heap of cash, quickly.
It is true that we've had beer sponsors on the shirt, as well as the apparel providers. But this is different. The new logo is dominant, overly visible and taints the great jersey.
People who aren't rugby fans couldn't care less, but what about the people that do?
It wouldn't have mattered if the company was the most squeaky clean outfit based in New Zealand, it just looks and feels wrong.
Most other sports have rampant sponsorship - just think of motor racing, golf, basketball and rugby league. But that is part of their history, their makeup; its integral to who and what they are.
The new logo is that one step too far. Its placement, front and centre, leaves a bad taste in the mouth, coupled with a sense of inevitability.
It opens the door for even more alphabet soup to be strategically placed across the jersey, the shorts, the socks and the boots.
It was signalled earlier this year that this day would come. Now, our once great jersey has lost a bit of its lustre and is just like all of the others.
ONE MORE THING
It's amazing what mob mentality can lead people to do.
Sadly, we saw some of the grubbier aspects of that in yesterday's Standard story about a bunch of people who decided to take their "party" to a Palmerston North service station. They allegedly stole, vomited and left behind all kinds of rubbish after swarming the forecourt.
The experience must have been terrible for the staff working there. The actions of the people involved were disgraceful. They clearly have a lot of growing up to do.