England players 'wannabes' in black jerseys - PM

Last updated 17:40 15/07/2011

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The prime minister has labelled the England rugby team a pack of wannabes for the news that they will don black uniforms at this year's Rugby World Cup.

John Key speaking at the launch of an All Blacks supporters' book in Takapuna this afternoon told media he was surprised by the reports of the England team's new playing strip.

The new England away strip will feature when England kick-off their World Cup campaign against Argentina in Dunedin on September 10.

"The decision is certain to ruffle a few Kiwi feathers and could even spark a diplomatic row with the host nation before a ball has been kicked," the UK-based Daily Mail paper reported.

The shirt and the shorts of the new strip are understood to be jet black, with no other colour except for the Red Rose badge.

The iconic All Blacks jersey has a 127-year history, dating back to 1884. England's new away strip will be officially unveiled by Nike on August 1.

"I think it's a bunch of wannabes actually, there's only one team that wears black with pride and that's the All Blacks."

Key said while he was surprised at the England team's intentions he said there was some good news.

"They can't wear black against the All Blacks because they're the homeside."

Key was in Auckland today at a ceremony to present the entire All Blacks team with the Bound By BlackTM book filled with signatures and well wishes from the people of New Zealand.

Signatures inside the book were collected during the Bound By BlackTM book tour at signing events around New Zealand that kicked off in April.

Richie McCaw, who accepted the book from the Prime Minister on behalf of the All Blacks team, said the book meant a great deal to the "boys."

"We're extremely proud to see the number of people who have signed, I'm looking forward to reading the messages."

"It means a lot to go into a game knowing the whole country is behind you, at the end of the day we do it for the fans."

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