Saru is not to blame for the Springbok emblem's absence from the front of the new World Cup jersey, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
Judging by the comments on SA Rugby magazine's Facebook page, there are thousands of furious Bok fans who won't be buying the jersey that was launched in Cape Town on Thursday evening. This is because the Bok emblem has once again been shifted to the left sleeve, with the Protea emblem over the heart, the Asics logo in the middle and the 2015 World Cup logo on the other side.
Those fans have a right to be upset – they are passionate about the Bok emblem and believe it should be prominently displayed – but they are wrong to be slamming Saru.
Saru knows the commercial value of the Bok emblem but has no choice but to move it to the left sleeve of the World Cup jersey, as World Rugby insists that there can only be three logos on the front of the jersey: the World Cup logo, the apparel sponsor's logo and the team logo (the Boks also have the Webb Ellis Cup on their right sleeve with the dates of their World Cup wins – 1995 and 2007 – underneath).
Like it or not, the Protea emblem is the official emblem of all South African sports teams, according to the government's National Colours Act, and therefore takes precedence over the Springbok.
In 2010, when the Boks' 2011 World Cup jersey was launched, Dr Jan Marais, chairman of the Saru executive council, explained the decision to move the Bok to the left sleeve.
'It was very straightforward in the end as our attempts to find a place for the Springbok on the front of the jersey failed to find favour,' he said. 'We were left with no choice and the important point to note is that this application will only be for World Cup events.'
Saru explored the possibility of applying a fourth mark – the Springbok emblem – either in conjunction with the Protea emblem or with the apparel sponsor logo but both ideas were rejected.
Since then, the Springboks, Junior Springboks and Springbok Women's side have all played with the Bok emblem on the left sleeve during World Rugby tournaments. So there shouldn't have been any surprise when the 2015 World Cup jersey was revealed on Thursday and the Bok was not on the front of it.
There were also complaints about the size of the Bok emblem on the sleeve (it is very small compared to the Protea), but that, too, is determined by World Rugby's jersey regulations. Don't blame Saru.
And it's not just the Boks who are affected. The Wallabies also have two logos – the Australian coat of arms and the Wallaby emblem – which means the Wallaby has to move to the left sleeve during the World Cup to accommodate the World Cup logo.
South African rugby fans can take some consolation from the fact that while the Bok emblem is not on the front of the World Cup jersey, it does at least appear somewhere on the jersey and the team continues to be called the Springboks.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images