Nothing quite prepared devoted Springbok supporters for the shock of seeing our beloved team donning a mint green kit during the Rugby World Cup.
The world of rugby was abuzz with chatter about this surprising change, driven by a new policy from World Rugby aimed at making the sport more inclusive for fans with colour vision deficiencies.
Let’s ‘tackle’ this chromatic controversy and how South Africans reacted to the fashion faux pas.
The Tradition of Green and Gold
The Springboks have worn their iconic green and gold colours with pride for over a century. These hues aren’t just a choice of attire; they are a symbol of our nation’s identity, heritage and spirit. Whenever the team took the field in those familiar colours, it was more than a match; it was a representation of South Africa’s history and culture.
The green evoked the lush landscapes of our beautiful land, while the gold symbolized wealth and prosperity. Seeing those colours filled us with pride, passion and a deep sense of patriotism.
The Push for Inclusivity
On the flip side, I’m all for practical inclusivity and diversity in sports. World Rugby’s policy aimed to ensure that all rugby fans, including those with colour vision deficiencies, could enjoy the game without hindrance.
Accommodating these fans is not just a matter of fairness; it’s a step towards making rugby more accessible.
A Considerate Choice
I fully support the Springboks’ choice to embrace a mint green kit because it showcased thoughtfulness and consideration, particularly during September, a month dedicated to raising awareness about colour blindness.
However, could there have been a middle ground? While embracing inclusivity is crucial, there might have been ways to make the mint green kit more palatable to the traditionalists. Perhaps incorporating gold accents with the mint green could have struck a balance.
The Checkers Effect
The mint green colour bore a striking resemblance to the Checkers Sixty60 brand. Fans and social media users humorously suggested that the Springboks were delivering groceries instead of playing rugby.
This amusing association, however, turned out to be a stroke of marketing genius for Checkers. The connection between the Checkers brand and the national rugby team generated massive exposure and awareness for their service. It also painted Checkers in a positive light as a supporter of inclusivity and diversity in sports and society.
Checkers astutely capitalized on this opportunity by offering their customers a weekly opportunity to win R1 million when shopping via the Sixty60 app during the Rugby World Cup! This clever move boosted their sales and garnered customer loyalty.
“It’s not what you sell that matters as much as how you sell it!” — Brian Halligan, CEO & Co-Founder, HubSpot
In the end, the Springboks’ infamous mint green kit rattled the foundations of colour theory and psychology in sports. It proved that colours hold different meanings and effects for various audiences, shaped by their preferences, experiences and expectations.
It also showcased how colours can be a powerful tool for promoting inclusivity and diversity without compromising identity and heritage. I can greatly appreciate the effort to accommodate all fans, even as we hold on to the cherished traditions and colours that define our beloved Springboks.
In the ever-changing world of sports, this colourful debate is a reminder that the game is about more than just what meets the eye – It’s about the passion and unity it inspires in fans around the world … And executing a minty fresh marketing strategy to promote your brand!