The New Zealand Rugby Union is on a mission to prop up the national game with more corporate money. Last year, AIG stuck its name on the All Black jersey. And now Pink Batts has signed up for a three year sponsorship deal that will see New Zealand's referees stepping out in pink for the Investec Super Rugby, ITM Cup and renamed Pink Batts Heartland Championship. But, unfortunately for some sporting sadists, they won't be forced to wear actual Pink Batts like the 2008 Snug campaign.
In what could be seen as either a blow for rugby purists lamenting the sport's descent into commercialism or a massive boost for the New Zealand Rugby Union—and the game as a whole—global insurance company American International Group has signed a five and a half year sponsorship agreement that will see its logo take pride of place in the middle of the All Black jersey.
The NZRU will no doubt be hoping the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup win might put a bit more lead in its commercial pencil to help get through a fairly difficult time for the national sport. And it's managed to retain five of the team's major sponsors, with Coca-Cola, Unilever, Sanitarium, Barkers and Bvlgari re-signing as All Blacks sponsors for undisclosed sums.