The RFU has finally confirmed their long-anticipated switch of kit suppliers from Canterbury to Umbro, which will see the England team sporting the iconic British soccer brand’s threads from 1 September 2020. The deal brings an end the RFU’s long association with Canterbury, which has supplied the England team since 2012.
Rumours of England’s switch to Umbro were first reported back in October 2019, and ever since then we’ve been awaiting the official announcement of a four-year partnership between the two this morning.
“The partnership between Umbro and England Rugby from September is a seminal chapter in our history,” said Umbro managing director Anthony Little. “The first time the England rugby team runs out onto the pitch, wearing the double-diamond logo, will be a proud moment for us, as an English brand.
“Modern rugby is demanding but our approach at Umbro has always been to make sure our kits are fit for purpose and we have been working tirelessly to ensure that we meet those demands and deliver a kit that will perform for England Rugby.”
Various reports have stated that the value of the England deal is around £5 million per season – a huge sum for rugby, and one that saw them outbid a variety of other more established rugby brands, including Adidas and Canterbury.
Umbro doesn’t have a great deal of recent history with rugby union – the brand provided the kit for the disastrous British Lions in 1983 tour to New Zealand, the successful tour in ’89 and supplied both Ireland and Scotland in the mid-1990s. In rugby league they also supplied Great Britain, England, Australia and various club teams in England, Wales and Australia in both codes up until the early 2000s.
Umbro is currently owned by the US-based Iconix Brand Group, which also owns Pony, Starter, Ocean Pacific, Lee Cooper and Ecko. Controversial UK sports retailer Sports Direct owns an 11.5% share of Iconix, in addition to its ownership of rugby retail giant Lovell Rugby, and its in-house VX3 brand.
Umbro are apparently looking to develop a strong presence in rugby union in England, however, with reports in February claiming that Bristol Bears will ditch their in-house Bristol Sport brand in favour of Umbro from next season.
England are not the only team who are going to be announcing a new kit supplier soon – Wales and Under Armour announced the end of their long-running kit deal four years early last year, with an agreement with Italian brand Macron strongly rumoured for some time.
What do you think of the Umbro deal, England fans? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below…