Friday, July 15, 2011
It's not quite the same as burning Old Glory, but it's close.
The English Rugby team has introduced its new team uniforms for the Rugby World Cup to be held later this year in New Zealand.
They will be playing in all black.
Now for those of you not familiar with Rugby, the New Zealand team is known as the All Blacks and have been wearing their trademark black uniforms for 127 years. It is more than just their brand. It is their people's brand. It is the national psyche.
No, it's not like somebody burning Old Glory; it's like someone - a long-time foe - simply adopting the Stars & Stripes as their new flag.
The Kiwis, as is their wont, have been their typical stoic, understated selves in initial man-on-the-street interviews and media reaction. One commentator put it this way, "But I say, bring it on. There shouldn’t be any diplomatic rows. There shouldn’t be any whinging about what they are doing. Even if they are in fact messing with our tradition. Forget all that – it won’t change how they play, just yawn and move on."
Well I'll do the outrage for them. Having been born in Scotland, I'm somewhat ill-disposed to the English in the first place. This, though, is just low-class. I'm sure the English are just trying to play mind games. Whatever. To steal the uniform of the host country of the tournament you're playing in is beyond tasteless. This is the biggest event in Kiwi history, and they have to invite guests like this?
Remember, the English colors are red and white. Not a hint of black in anything they have ever done, been or aspired to be. So why the hell decide now that they'll play in black? The only dash of color on the new uniforms will be the red rose - now besmirched.
The Kiwi reaction - which, frankly, has stunned me - is the opposite of what the English have done: polite grace. I'm sure anger will build. My first reaction was to check the date on the calendar. I really thought this was an April Fool's joke. That's how obnoxious this is.
But, no, it's July 15. The only saving grace is that if the two teams meet in the Rugby World Cup - God, I hope they do - the All Blacks will be playing in their uniforms; the English will have to switch to their now-degraded trademark white.
Forgive me this sporting outburst. I feel better now