Brendan Moran talks about the Ireland jersey preparations ahead of the team’s World Cup match against Australia:
“In the lead up to the big game against Australia picking a relevant subject to write about, in relation to the game, was proving to be difficult. With so much information on the internet and bloggers all over the world giving their opinion, as well as tv, newspapers, Twitter and Facebook, a different view was needed.
After a bit of banter with Mike Workman of Puma, the idea came to me to do a series of pictures showing the process the Ireland team jersey goes through from match to match. All the Ireland jerseys are personalised to each player during this World Cup. It goes without saying that not every player wears the same size jersey and these days, the jerseys fit the players a lot better than in the past. Even players in the same positions don’t necessarily wear the same size.
So, when the team was named on Wednesday of this week for the match against Australia, with help from Mike, Paul Mendel, General Manager, Puma New Zealand and Kieron O’Neill from Horizon Sports Management, I headed off to the facility to capture the process. Puma has 2 days in which to print the numbers, the players names, their number of caps and embroider the date and opposition team onto the jersey. While 2 days might seem a lot, this process can only be done in Auckland. The jerseys are shipped around New Zealand, whether from New Plymouth or Dunedin, it all takes time and must be in time for the game.
There are 2 companies involved in the process of preparing the jerseys. Stahls Graphics and Embroider It. An interesting side note to this is that the person entrusted with applying the numbers and names of the players, is a Kiwi by the name of Bevan Patrick Ryan, who actually played at No. 8 for Abbeyfeale RFC in Limerick for a season in 1999-2000. He is now a member of the Waitakere RFC, in Auckland, New Zealand.
The process of applying the numbers and players names and number of caps earned is through heat transfer. A transfer is placed on the relevant part of the jersey, an industrial heater is placed on top of the transfer and jersey and heat of 165 degrees centigrade is applied for about 8 seconds. The players numbers are on the back of the shirt and the player’s names and number of caps are applied in the inside back collar of the jersey. This must surely a treasured memento for every player.
The left sleeve is then embroidered with the date of the match and the opposing team. It takes about 5 mins to embroider the jersey with the details. In all, 25 jerseys are embroidered, for the match day. 22 and 23 for blood substitutions, the last 3 being various sizes to try and match as near as possible so from scrum-half to prop to second row, all can be accomodated should the need arise.
All the jerseys are then checked and boxed and shipped to the team hotel to be looked after by legendary baggage master with the Irish team, Paddy ‘Rala’ O’Reilly for safekeeping until match day.
Not every team playing in the World Cup will go to such lengths but I think in time, when the players look back on their careers, a personalised Rugby World Cup jersey will be appreciated and be a key piece of any player’s personal collection of memorabilia from their playing career. Good thinking, whoever’s idea it was, this will be appreciated in time. Hopefully, happy memories from the game against Australia will make the jersey even more treasured.”
Pictures by Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE