While the sport definitely isn’t as popular here in the states, rugby is by far the most dominant sport in New Zealand. It’s kinda like NZ’s version of soccer and football, combined into one. Needless to say, the commercials for rugby teams is widespread and exciting for viewers throughout the country. Two of the top rugby teams in the country, The All-Blacks and the Black Ferns, are using this platform for good.
Earlier today, the All-Blacks and Black Ferns teamed up with their popular sponsor AIG Japan to start a campaign that challenges discrimination against and promotes acceptance of the LGBT+ community.
To mark this campaign, the rugby teams released a two-minute video with an important message. The clip starts with the teams entering a stadium in Osaka, Japan, preparing for what seems to be just another ordinary rugby match. Then the narrator reveals the twist:
“The next battle is different.
The next enemy is truly formidable and deeply devious. It is discrimination – an enemy that cannot be fought alone and must be defeated together.
It will take more than 15 – it will take thousands – millions”
The All-Blacks and Black Ferns are then shown linking up together on the field as a united front, with a rainbow appearing on their jerseys (the camera also cuts back and forth to fans in the stadium waving pride flags).
What’s even cooler is that the rainbow’s appearing on the jerseys isn’t just a fancy video effect; rather, the All-Blacks and Black Ferns have actually adopted a uniquely designed jersey that reflects a rainbow when the fabric is stretched. The jerseys were created by using ribbed material and painting the rainbow stripes on both sides.
“The result is a fabric that maintains its black appearance when at rest, but when stretched, reveals the deeper grooved portions of each rib and the colours underneath,” TBWA/Hakuhodo (the agency that helped develop the campaign) explained in a statement.
The campaign surfaces in the wake of a rugby player’s homophobic remarks. Earlier this month, Israel Folau of the Australian International Rugby Union Team commented on his Instagram page: “[God’s plan for gay people is] HELL…Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
Folau has since denied he is homophobic, but rather he was “trying to save gay people from eternal damnation”—whatever that means.
Watch the All-Blacks and Black Fern’s campaign video here.