Rugby News: Bridging the Gap Between Fans and Stars

All Six Nations players are set to feature their names on the back of their shirts when the 2024 iteration kicks off on February 2nd. The move has been supported by all six members to appeal to more casual fans of the game. The jerseys had been trialled in the 2022 Autumn Series by England, Scotland, and Italy, a trial which continued into the 2023 Six Nations. In 2024, the remaining international sides in Ireland, France, and Wales will follow suit to make the game more marketable towards a younger generation. Rugby Union has traditionally steered away from the approach taken by football clubs, favoring players wearing the traditional positional number on the field rather than their names. With the growth in popularity of other sports and a younger generation increasingly being drawn to individual players as much as teams, several of the unions are increasingly conscious of rugby’s need to attract more casual viewers. The introduction of player names on jerseys also provides commercial and merchandising opportunities. Rugby has traditionally stayed away from such approaches, but there is potential for player names to bring fans closer to the international stars of the game. In other rugby news, the All Blacks are set for the biggest behind-the-scenes shake-up since 2003. Razor, Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson, has been preparing for the All Blacks’ first test matches of the year. In the NRL, center Waqa Blake was originally believed to be making a move to rugby union, but he may now reportedly head to England’s Super League to join St Helens. If the deal goes through, he will be joining other ex-NRL players at the club.