Special jerseys for Varsity props
With scrummaging the focal point in the rugby world at present, Varsity Rugby has acted fast to try and solve a problem in the front rows by producing special jerseys to help props with their binding.
Pretoria-based clothing company, NO LIMITS, was tasked by Varsity Rugby with making these jerseys a reality and a special 'prop jersey' has been produced ahead of the 2014 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
All the props in the Varsity Cup competition will wear these jerseys with a 'gripping patch' on the back left of the jersey for the loosehead props and a patch on the right for the tighthead prop - allowing the opposition props to get a better grip when binding and, thus, to keep scrums from collapsing.
"This is a combined effort between the Varsity Cup jersey suppliers, NO LIMITS, with valuable input from André Watson and Balie Swart and, of course, the blessing of SARU," explained Varsity Cup Managing Director Duitser Bosman.
"We pride ourselves on innovation across the Varsity Rugby competitions and this is another step in the right direction to make the game enjoyable to watch and safer for the players.
"We have had 23-man squads in the Varsity Cup for four seasons now and we have not had one case of uncontested scrums since then. We are confident that these jerseys will provide a similar success story in the front row."
Former World Cup-winning Springbok prop Balie Swart explained further: "Having a fantastic and passionate clothing company like NO LIMITS has helped a lot and they've helped design an excellent product which is a world first in conjunction with the Varsity Cup, SARU and SA Referees.
"The reality is that binding is a major issue when it comes to scrummaging and these jerseys will be able to solve an issue there," added Swart, who looks after scrummaging at national level and for SANZAR.
"First and foremost, this jersey will help with safety in the game. Aside from the pad giving extra grip to props, it also shows where you need to bind which will help spectators, coaches and referees. It will also prevent more resets in the game and, thus, make for a better spectacle.
"This isn't the final product, we will continue to work on this but we're excited to see the results from the Varsity Cup (where these jerseys will be used) and will be comparing these with results from the Varsity Shield (where the jerseys won't be used) and taking our findings to the IRB.
"Aside from helping the props with their binding, I believe hookers will benefit too from the jerseys and I have no doubt that these jerseys will be used more and more and should, for example, be used at schools level where, of course, safety is also of major importance."