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Dublin: 15°C Thursday 29 October 2020
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How Connacht found themselves playing like superheroes

The westerners beat Munster in Green Lantern jerseys earlier this season.

ANYONE WHO WATCHED Bundee Aki cross the whitewash last November to give Connacht an historic win at Thomond Park would be forgiven for thinking the westerners were bestowed with super human powers.

Little wonder too as, for just the second time in their history, Pat Lam’s men had travelled to the home of Munster rugby and claimed victory.

But there was something special about the kit they wore that night too:

John Muldoon celebrate after the game John Muldoon in the Green Lantern jersey. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The western province were just one of a number of teams picked by their kit manufacturer, BLK, to model a range of superhero jerseys that weekend and their traditional home kit made The Green Lantern the obvious tie-in.

“It was a concept that BLK in Australia came up with after they approached the movie franchisees about getting a licence to do some superhero-themed kits,” Jonathan Courtenay of Topline Sportswear — suppliers of the Connacht kit in Ireland — told The42 this week.

“Through our relationship with BLK clubs around Europe, we approached some of the main one like Toulouse in France, Ospreys in Wales and Connacht here in Ireland while Super Rugby’s Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels were also asked to take part.

“There were a host of superheroes we could have gone with but really we tried to go with teams whose existing club colours matched with the characters. In Connacht’s case, they obviously wear green at home so the Green Lantern was a no-brainer.

“Likewise, the Melbourne Rebels wear red, white and blue so Superman was a clear choice there while the Reds were The Flash and both Toulouse and Ospreys wear black away kits so Batman was a nice tie-in there.” he says.

But teams and especially their CEOs can be, unsurprisingly, quite conservative in nature so did it take much to get them on board with the idea?

“The clubs didn’t take a huge amount of convincing to be honest as the whole superhero genre is so strong at the moment and the kits were released to coincide with all the hype around Batman v Superman.

“Clubs can be cautious around doing something different with their kit but when you point out the upside and the relevance to their fans, they come around a little quicker.

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“What I always say to the CEO of a province or a club is that ‘you’re not the guy we’re trying to sell to’. It’s a dodgy one because you don’t want to offend anyone but I think most of the guys realise that it’s true’.

Source: BLK

The results spoke for themselves with all the superhero-themed kits proving to be big hits.

“The Connacht one was 80% sold-out before it even hit the shelves and I think the balance of 20% was gone in 24 hours,” Courtenay says.

“After it sold out, we were inundated with requests on Twitter and Facebook to reissue them but we can’t unfortunately. First of all, the deal only lasts a certain amount of time and, secondly, you can’t have a limited edition and then just mass produce them forever.

“In the Connacht scenario it was always going to be a tough one to get when 80% was pre-sold but when they wore it and beat Munster in Thomond Park for the first time in 29 years, that just added to the legend of the jersey.”

And for the future, can Connacht fans expect any more themed jerseys in the coming season?

“Everybody wants to do something different and when you get a good idea, it’s very important to run with it before someone else comes along and has the same one. It’s a challenge to come up with those concepts but there’s always something new on the horizon.

“At the last BLK conference I was at in Capetown before Christmas we discussed what the follow up could be and there’s one in the pipeline that could possibly even dwarf the superhero concept if it comes off but I couldn’t possibly give it away right now. But it could be massive.”

The special edition Green Lantern jerseys may no longer be available in the shops but, thanks to BLK Ireland we’ve got the last one in the country (size L) to give away.

To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is follow them on Twitter using the button below and we’ll pick a winner at random on Monday.

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