UPDATE: The SARU has confirmed that the reason Pollard and others were wearing the incorrect kit was because of a supply error, which the Springbok kit managers were unable to be rectified in time for the game.
South African journalist Brendan Nel reports that the Bok hierarchy has explained that, “A mix-up in supply led to the delivery of a small number of incorrectly branded jerseys, by which point it was too late to source replacements.”
Original story below:
While you were watching South Africa’s ruthlessly efficient derailing of the Japanese Rugby World Cup feel-good story in Tokyo this afternoon, you might have noticed that something didn’t seem quite right about some of the Springbok players…
For reasons that are genuinely mystifying, it seems that several of the Springbok players, including starting fly-half Handré Pollard and substitute Lood de Jager, ended up wearing the wrong jersey for the match.
You can see it quite clearly on the picture below – in the foreground Springbok centres Damian De Allende and Lukhanyo Am are wearing the regular Rugby World Cup primary jersey we’ve seen for the past month, complete with the tournament logo on the right breast and the Springbok shifted to the left sleeve.
But look at what Pollard, in the background, is wearing – he’s sporting a regular non-RWC version of the design, complete with no tournament logo, and as a result the Springbok moved back to its familiar location on the right.
It’s not as though they simply swapped jerseys at half time and didn’t have a tournament one handy – Pollard can clearly be seen wearing a non-RWC shirt in the anthems before the game.
To further make things awkward, it hasn’t officially been confirmed that the Boks will continue wearing this design after the RWC, but we guess that’s out of the bag given the existence of non-tournament versions!
There are so many questions to be asked here – the most important issue being ‘how on earth did this happen?’ Did Pollard and de Jager somehow wreck all their RWC jerseys and had to get subbed in? Did the kit man simply not bring enough jerseys to ensure that everyone had enough for the tournament?
Did he or she forget to do the laundry?!
And then there’s the question of where did the non-tournament jerseys come from? Did they have to get ASICS to send them over some spares and this was all they had available, did the kit man simply pack the wrong shirts?
And then there’s the question of what World Rugby is going to do about it? They’re very strict about teams respecting the rules for uniforms and the presentation of those uniforms, so we imagine that they’ll have something to say to the SARU about players wearing jerseys without the tournament logo on them.
We’ve reached out to the Springboks and ASICS to try to get to the bottom of the most baffling and bizarre jersey-related incident at Rugby World Cup 2019.