Sponsors are essential but there has to be balance

Before we start, I have to point out that this column is brought to you by Johnny The Grocer's beer department at Merrilands New World.

It's not really, but don't be surprised if it is in the future because as we are fast finding out nothing in sport is sacred or spared, particularly when it comes to getting a sponsor's name or logo out there.

Every allowable scrap of jersey, shorts, sock, boot, headgear and even underwear is sellable and it's only controlled to a respectable level, sometimes, by competition rulers who thankfully put some restrictions in place.

I'm not going to argue that sponsors are not the life blood of many sports at many levels but there has to be a limit, surely.

While the weekend started for many in Taranaki at Inglewood's TET Stadium (example one) with the Ranfurly Shield (thankfully not example two) defence against King Country.

It was a brilliant day and Tenderlink (example two) Taranaki played well enough for most to leave reasonably happy.

It could have been so much better an experience had it not been for the constant ramming down our throats of just about every sponsor associated with Taranaki Rugby.

It's not enough, it seems, to have all of these companies display their various logos on the hoardings surrounding the playing field, we have to listen to the ground announcer marry up every player with a sponsor.

I don't know how much it cost Crowded House (example three) to pair up with Jack Cameron but they were on to a winner because every time the No 10 kicked a goal we were reminded that he was sponsored by . . . you guessed it.

The same went for try-scorers.

Yes, we now know Willie Rickards is sponsored by Vodafone (example four), Waisake Naholo gets his pace from Stars Travel (example five), and James Marshall by Taranaki Engineering (example six).

If that wasn't bad enough, and it really was, then you cursed every time there was a decent break in the game.

Instead of being able to share something deep and meaningful with the one beside you, you had to shout to be heard as we were told through the 38 booming speakers around the ground that Taranaki Rugby would like to acknowledge their major sponsors - Tenderlink, Port Taranaki (example seven), Shuk Engineering (example eight), Tui (example nine), Canterbury (example 10) and Tag Oil (example 11).

Even the sorry excuse for a match programme had a full page dedicated to every Tom, Dick and Sally who has sunk a dollar into Taranaki Rugby.

Out of the eight tiny pages on offer, I found a sponsor's reference or logo 108 times!

When is enough just that?

I know things are tight and sports organisations have to promise just about everything they can in exchange for a cheque but really, 108 times!


Gripes aside, well done to the Inglewood United Rugby Football Club for the work they did to help organise a mostly fantastic occasion.

There was something special about the Ranfurly Shield being choppered in by Dave "Trapper" Loveridge, arguably Inglewood's favourite son.

The veteran of 135 games for Taranaki, Trapper was one of the greatest, and he did it all without a sponsor attached to his name!


Slip of the brain on Saturday, leaving out Mark Urwin and Daniel Smith as former Super Rugby players from the New Plymouth Boys' High School 1992 first XV.

Urwin, of course, played for the Highlanders in 2001 while Smith was a regular in the Hurricanes side in 2003.


Taranaki Daily News