Following the success of the British & Irish Lions at their first game in the Castle Lager series last weekend, Head of Sports Marketing at Canterbury, Simon Rowe, shares his take on what it’s like being the official kit supplier for the 2021 British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa – the world’s most famous rugby tournament.
For people who don’t know, what’s special about the British & Irish Lions?
There isn’t another team sport concept like the British & Irish Lions, taking the best from four fiercely rivalled nations (England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales) and putting them into one squad every four years. Much more than the on-field performances, the Lions also embodies what’s great about rugby – rivals come together as teammates, visiting countries to inspire new generations of players.
What’s Canterbury’s role in this year’s tournament?
We are one of two main partners for the British & Irish Lions. The kit, which is worn by the players, coaches and management, is designed and produced by Canterbury and we also create the ranges worn and loved by Lions fans across the globe. We’re also supporting the Lions Origin Club recognition programme, which showcases the grassroots clubs who have played a role in creating the legends we’ve seen wearing the iconic red jersey.
What’s special about this year’s Lions jersey?
Our product and design team have truly excelled themselves with the 2021 Lions range. As is the tradition, the jersey is red and features a white collar but for this tour they’ve added a striking Lion graphic on both shoulders. Made up of hundreds of shards, the graphic is designed to represent a person or a moment in that player’s journey. It’s also the most sustainable Lions jersey ever made, with the main jersey formed of a recycled polyester blend.
What was the inspiration behind the ‘Made From All’ brand campaign?
Rugby is about so much more than the 23 players selected on a match day. Those players couldn’t have reached the top were it not for the people that helped them along the way – the coaches, the parents, the kit person and the fans. ‘Made From All’ is about recognising those important members of the rugby community who are all part of the Lions story and also the future of the game.
How can fans who aren’t able to travel get involved in the tournament?
The Sea of Red is iconic in world rugby, and the Lions is usually watched by a travelling army of fans. This year, local rugby clubs will be screening the fixtures, with over 2,000 clubs due to open their doors during the tour. We’ve also worked closely with the Lions to create a virtual Sea of Red, which will offer fans a chance to show their true support wearing the kit. There’s also a supporters pack, available to download from the Lions website, so people can run fun events and make the most of the summer of sport.
Who are you backing to win?
Once again, the Lions will be pitted against current World Champions, so the challenge will be big. South Africa are a physically strong side and will be playing on home turf, which will always give an advantage. Warren Gatland, the Lions coach, has a unique ability to bring the best out of a squad of players, so I’m predicting a 2 – 1 series win for the Lions with it all coming down to the final test.
What’s next for Canterbury?
We continue on our mission to bring the experience of togetherness in sport to more people. We have a renewed focus on the communities of schools and clubs who underpin the game and we want to inspire the next generation through our sponsorship partners.