Aiming for a third historic Rugby World Cup title, South Africa will no doubt leave no stone unturned in their preparations for the sport’s greatest prize. And with the help of Official Technical Kit Sponsor ASICS, the kit in which the Springboks will take to the field at the Tournament may just give them a slight edge.
With direct insights from the players, focusing on every detail that can improve a player’s performance, ASICS developed the kit at their Institute of Sport Science (ISS) in Kobe, Japan, and while you may be inclined to think it’s a load of techie mumbo jumbo, when you consider how small percentages can make such a difference in the professional game it becomes clear how the developments will provide very real benefits.
All the technology created by ASICS features in a short video filmed at ISS, with Jean de Villiers, Tendai Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth, Duane Vermuelen, Bismark du Plessis, Cornal Hendricks, Willie Le Roux and Pat Lambie.
Jean De Villiers, Springboks Captain, said “We’re amazed at the level of detail and research that ASICS has put into creating the kit, which reflects the detail we put into our own preparation.”
Every aspect of the Springboks jersey has been designed with the aim of reducing weight without compromising on strength and the official Rugby World Cup 2015 Springboks shirt will be the lightest jersey the team has ever worn. At 70 grams lighter than any previous rugby jersey, it allows the players to play with freedom and reduces fatigue, with small margins making big differences.
“This is the lightest jersey we’ve ever worn and it’s going to give us a great advantage”, said Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira. “You might not feel the advantage of a lighter jersey instantly, but over the course of a game and tournament, with the rising intensity of international rugby, you will reap the benefits every time you pull it on. We train extremely hard and analyse every element in our preparation and ASICS has done the same, every detail counts”.
The level of detail has been extended across the jersey with the old woven logos making way for 3D badging, which has a significant effect on the weight of the shirt, while also improving the visibility of the Springboks logo on TV.
The jersey’s also packed with technology focusing on different areas of the game. Grip on the ball is improved with special silicone pads on the ribcage and the jersey is designed with special fabrics to make the shirts harder to hold onto in the tackle.
Featuring two combined materials ASICS has created a jersey with high tensile strength and a smooth surface making it harder than ever before to keep hold of in the tackle. The mechanical weave is designed to stretch, allowing players to feel a benefit in binding onto one another in scrum and maul situations, but it also ‘snaps back’ quickly making it hard for opposition players to grip in the tackle.
The reduced grip also has the effect of improving the breathability in a key area of the shirt, something which benefits the players throughout the duration of a high intensity test match.
Eben Etzebeth, Springboks lock, “The contact area is a fiercely competitive part of the game and it’s very important that you can keep possession of the ball. Having direct input into the grip on the shirt at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science was invaluable. The grip placement now allows for more security when carrying the ball but also a stronger grip when binding in the scrum. These marginal gains can have a massive impact on performance.”
Having previously introduced graduated compression socks into the Springboks apparel, with the knowledge developed from running products, ASICS has worked with players to improve these socks with a cotton footbed that improves the traction of the foot on the boot.
The socks work to improve blood flow, this alleviates fatigue, allowing players to play harder for longer as well as aiding recovery post-game.
ASICS has a long history of developing products through science and research to suit the needs of each athlete and has designed boots specifically for both forwards and backs.
Forwards in the modern game require a stable footing as they seek to counteract the forces applied in scrums, mauls and rucks. Featuring six front studs, the GEL-LETHAL TIGHT FIVE gives players the grip and footing they require when pushing to gain an advantage in contact situations.
An additional 10mm heel raise, the difference in height between the heel and forefoot, offers the best biomechanical position for rugby players. Catchily named HG10 by ASICS, this protects and enhances forward motion, reducing load on the Achilles tendons, calf muscles and hamstrings. A rear foot GEL is also included to reduce the influence of impact on players’ body.
Conversely the GEL-LETHAL SPEED is designed for speed, aimed at backs who want to move quickly, yet still feel confident going into contact. It features only four front studs, allowing maximum velocity and reducing weight to give players the freedom to move across the grass.
A lightweight, seamless upper construction improves durability and performance, while added protection of the big toe allows players to know they are protected in contact situations.
The GEL-LETHAL SPEED also features HG10, as well as giving an easier transition from standing to forward momentum.
Heyneke Meyer, Springboks Head Coach, commented, “Working closely with ASICS provides an extra level of insight. At the highest level of modern sport this kind of input from players, coaching staff and ASICS staff is invaluable. As a partnership we have sought to understand all the areas where we can improve and ensure we are prepared for every game. ASICS has come to the party with this new kit and I know the team will wear it proudly at Rugby World Cup 2015.”
In the build-up to the launch, ASICS and the Springboks released a series of teaser videos featuring the Springboks at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science, Kobe, Japan.
For more information visit http://www.asics.co.za