The WRU and Under Armour have agreed to end their long-running kit partnership four years earlier than planned, according to reports today.
WalesOnline is reporting that the two sides have “amicably agreed to terminate the contract” at the end of 2020. The original nine-year contract extension was signed in 2015, and was due to run up until 2024.
The WRU is reporting that the decision to part ways is a mutual one, however WRU’s Sales & Marketing Manager Craig Maxwell does imply that it was perhaps driven by a change in Under Armour’s strategy.
“We had conversations with Under Armour middle to end of last year, where they were identifying their strategy was changing,” he told WalesOnline. “So we decided after 11 years together it was probably best for both of us that we looked at what else was in the market.”
Wales first signed with Under Armour in 2008, becoming the first major European sports team to partner with the then fledgling US brand. Since then, however, UA has grown to become one of the world’s leading apparel brands with high profiles in everything from basketball and American football to soccer and golf.
With megastar athletes Tom Brady, Steph Curry, Anthony Joshua and Jordan Spieth all now in the UA stable, it’s likely that the Baltimore-based brand is no longer able to give the attention to the WRU that it once did.
With the deal ending after November’s Rugby World Cup, it seems certain that Wales will break with their usual practice of releasing their kit for a new two-year cycle ahead of a Rugby World Cup. Instead the new shirt will only be worn for just one season before the new supplier takes over for the 2021 Six Nations.
Who will take over is still under wraps – the WRU is currently in talks with “five or six” manufacturers over the new deal. Rugby Shirt Watch understands that the frontrunner is Macron, who have a large presence in Welsh rugby and at test level with Italy and Scotland. Other established names in the hat include ASICS and Kappa, while a leftfield contender is apparently compression base-layer specialists Skins.
Whoever takes over, it will mean a very different looking Wales run out in the 2021 tournament.