Rugby: Team shows colours for breast cancer

The Wakatipu premier rugby team sporting its pink playing strip. Photo by Joanne Carroll.
The Wakatipu premier rugby team sporting its pink playing strip. Photo by Joanne Carroll.
It is out with the blue and in with the pink.

The Wakatipu premier rugby team is donning a pink strip this year, with jerseys and socks in the most feminine of colours, as the side raises funds for breast cancer.

The team, which normally wears a predominantly light blue strip, will debut the new look tomorrow, when it takes on Upper Clutha in the curtain-raiser to the Super 14 match at the Queenstown Events Centre.

Team captain Damian Petre said when the idea was first raised most of the players thought it was a good idea, and got on board.

"The colour of the jerseys shouldn't really have much impact on how you play the game. I'm sure the props will be happy, as long as it covers their bellies," Petre said.

"Some guys were a bit anxious when we first started, but they got over it pretty quickly. I suppose it will look a bit better in the backs."

Petre, a centre, said it was for a good cause, although he expected to get a bit of ribbing from opponents.

The idea originated from club member Jeremy Drake, who was a family friend of Claire Walker, who suffered from breast cancer and died in September last year.

He brought some pink boots to training, and then discussion began about going the whole way.

The strip was produced by Leslie Rugby, and will be worn only for home games.

It is not the first time a rugby side has worn pink. French club side Stade Francais introduced pink jerseys a few years ago, though that was more to do with self-promotion than a good cause.

Wakatipu club president Damien O'Connell said the side, which finished third in the Central Otago competition last year, wanted to raise funds for a good cause instead of usually having to go round and find sponsors for its own commitments.

"I'm sure the guys might get a bit of a ribbing from other players, but it is all for a good cause. It is something different but everyone has been really encouraging."

The club has come up with a dollar-a-point sponsorship scheme, and will also be running a collection at tomorrow's Super 14 game at Queenstown Events Centre. They will also be auctioning a pink jersey signed by the All Blacks, and will sell the jerseys at the end of the season.

Chief club sponsor Rilean Construction will pink-wrap all its construction sites in Queenstown before every home game.

New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation executive trustee Heather Shotter was delighted with the pink jersey idea and said funds raised would go towards expanding programmes to fight breast cancer.