From left: Callum Lacey from Super-Brands, Steven Kitshof, Nizaam Carr,  Super-Brands GM  Du Toit Botes,  Eben  Etzebeth, Don Armand, Dwayne Vermeulen and Super-Brands CEO Cuan Chelin.

 

When a brand spends a small fortune on sports stars to wear its products, it expect a return on investment through increased sales from fans eager to copy the star. For this to happen, the fans have to identify the sport star with the brand whenever they walk into a store.

Cuan Chelin (left) with Bryan Habana
 
For nearly a decade Bryan Habana has been “the face” of Canterbury protective gear and baselayers – worldwide. A whole wall of Canterbury New Zealand’s stand at an ispo Beijing show a few years ago, for instance, featured our own Bryan Habana.
 
But, it is not only on field that Habana promotes the brand. At a recent “night with the sport stars” to launch the 2014 Canterbury, Mizuno and Skins ranges, hosted by South African distributor Super-Brands, Habana showed why he is so worthy of the name “brand ambassador”.
He was the ultimate marketing dream with statements like: “I have been an extension of the family since the inception of Super-Brands – they look after us really well. I have been with Canterbury for almost nine years. A few years ago the brand went through a difficult period and I felt a bit uncertain about my position – but then Super-Brands took over the distribution of Canterbury and developed it into a great brand, both locally and internationally. I have been fortunate to be part of the brand ever since.”

Bryan Habana autographs the Canterbury ball

 

Apart from being photographed with guests and signing autographs, Habana and several of his Stormers team mates gave their views on the new products that were launched.
Nizaam Carr (left) answers Botes’s questions. Between the two is the
new Springbok home (green middle) and away (white middle) shirts
 
The new 2013 Springbok jersey
 
Callum Lacey of Super-Brands asks
Bryan Habana about the latest Bok Jersey
The “Shirtless” marketing campaign for the new Bok jersey is “fantastic”, says Habana. “It is fantastic to see how the public took to it. There was some brains behind it. It’s something different and people took to it.”
“We were involved with the technical development of the Bok jersey and we take pride in what Canterbury achieved with it – like the embossed watermark emblazoned on the back, which means so much more to our players, to be able to play with the Bok emblem on our backs.”  
 
The players can’t wait to wear the white jersey against Scotland at the Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit, because it is such a rare occasion to play in white, he concluded.
Baselayers
Habana is especially identified with Canterbury’s baselayer range.  “Of the 83 test matches I have played, I’ve played about 80 of them in Canterbury baselayers,” he says. “At the highest level of play, 1% can make a big difference. If you are 1% drier, it can make the difference between scoring a try, or winning a match.
Bryan Habana talks about baselayers

“It is an exciting new range they have, with new developments. I have high standards and I want the best from the people I work with – the research and development done by Canterbury is of the highest standard. They had been tested in the hardiest conditions.” 

Wearing a baselayer is much more than a “fashion statement”, says Habana. “When you do a lot of hard work preparing for a match and you get on a plane for 20 hours, you need to carry on the muscle preparation you’ve been doing by wearing compression garments, instead of wasting all the benefits of the training.”
 
Shoulder pads
“I have played one game in the new Canterbury shoulder pads and from a player’s perspective, it is great,” he says. “Canterbury asked for our input in the development, because we all have different needs. I asked for a lightweight product – I don’t want to be weighed down when running – and the padding across the sternum is really cool.
 
“The product is easy to use as it is very strong, and can be washed and worn several times. Super rugby is rigorous and very hard on protective and you don’t want to change your shoulder pads all the time.”
Other players
Habana is, however, by far not the only player wearing Canterbury protective in Super rugby – think of players like Gio Aplon, Steven Sykes, Adriaan Strauss, Lappies Labuschagne, and many more.
The latest Canterbury headgear, shoulder pads, balls and boots
Even though protective vests are hidden under the rugby shirt, the red band around the neck of the Canterbury vests are visible when wearing most rugby shirts. This will create awareness among young fans, who’ll want to buy the protective garments their rugby heroes are wearing, says Du Toit Botes, GM of the Super-Brands division that distributes Canterbury.
 
Statistics show that there is an increase in the number of players wearing headgear in the Super games, he added.  There has also been a massive push from Canterbury for the wider use of protective wear by rugby players.
 
Nizaam Carr talks about Canterbury headgear
Stormers flanker or 8th man Nizaam Carr agrees that more and more players are now wearing headgear. “I have always worn a scrum cap as a kid and it was a natural extension to keep on wearing it at Super rugby level,” he said at the range launch. “It boils down to what you are comfortable with. Given the high intensity and physicality of the game nowadays, more kids play with protection. It saves you from getting concussion. Youngsters are being encouraged to play with scrum caps.  When more kids wear headgear, it becomes a fashion. If you are used to it, you will go on playing with it.”
 
Western Province captain Deon Fourie joined the Canterbury programme this year. He played out of position for most of the past season – one week as hooker, one week flank – and he appreciates the over-the-shoulder protection the Canterbury shoulder pads offer for his joints.  He also appreciates the science behind the development, which he believes make the Canterbury protective products the best in the country.
 
Canterbury boots
Barely in his twenties, the fearless play of the 2m tall Eben Etzebeth has made him a firm favourite of Stormers and Springbok fans. Despite his 117kg frame, Etzebeth prefers a lighter boot because he likes to run, and Canterbury therefore involved this lock in the development of their new Phoenix boot.
 
Eben Etzebeth (standing left) and Du Toit Botes explaining the latest technology in the Canterbury Phoenix boot
 
“It is a heavy duty boot, that offers more protection to the toes, as locks tend to come down on their toes,” he says of the boot available in full kangaroo leather for elite players, or in synthetic for club and school players. 
 
“It offers good support in the back, to keep the foot in place even when in a heavy scrum. Areas that help the sweat evaporate, reduces sliding.  It also has the maximum number of studs to provide good grip in the scrum.”
 
In dry conditions he likes wearing boots with 18 studs, while on the soft fields of the Northern hemisphere, he prefers 21 studs.
 
Canterbury balls
Visuals sell balls, says Botes, and the first thing a school player will do when he looks at a rugby ball in a store is to pick it up and throw the ball in the air. Canterbury designed their new ball range with turbine stripes, which creates a mesmerizing spinning effect when tossed in the air. “We tested this on 3 500 kids and the colours and spinning top effect were the things they went for every time.”
 
Botes tosses the Canterbury ball in the air
 
“For R89 we can offer you a ball with visual appeal that is the same standard as the current ball used in Vodacom, Currie Cup and varsity matches.”
 
Mizuno boots
Mizuno aims to have the best players in every position playing in their boots, Botes told the guests at the launch evening. They therefore designed boots that are very specific to a position. “Speaking to players, it is clear that the game has changed. There is much more running, even for the tight five, and they therefore also need boots in lighter materials.”
 
Botes shows off the latest Mizuno rugby boots
 
Mizuno pride themselves on being the most technical brand for kicking, added Botes. They created three pattern areas on the upper, for example, which allows the kicker to either “bend it like Beckham”, or loop kick, or to stop the ball dead.
 
Dwayne Vermeulen talks about the Mizuno boots as Don Armand (right) looks on
 
Stormers eighth man Duane Vermeulen says he started playing with Mizuno boots last season after he struggled to find the right size boot that fitted comfortably. “The Mizuno boot is very light and easy to wear, and when I put on the first pair, I thought: ‘what a nice feeling’. The interchangeable studs are ideal for all fields.”
 
The interchangeable studs are also a big plus factor for Don Armand, who is moved between the flank and eighth man positions by the Stormers. “A lock will use the bigger studs, and a back player the lighter studs. The boot is so light that it makes no difference which position you play.”
 
The hardworking Stormers loosehead prop, Steven Kitshoff, says he likes the Mizuno boot because it was developed for his needs. “It offers support and comfort, even under pressure in the scrum, and the grip of the studs is perfect in wet and dry conditions, because they are interchangeable.”
 
Dewaldt Duvenage with the Timaru SI Mizuno boot
 
Stormers scrum-half Dewaldt Duvenage likes two things about his Timaru SI Mizuno boot – the grip, which he can feel while his foot rotates, and the reinforced support on the back of the foot. “I broke an ankle while wearing a previous boot and I am therefore very concerned that I receive good support. Despite the light weight, all this technology has been put into one boot.”
 
Skins compression
 
Skins brand manager Paul Copson showing off the latest compression range
 
Skins has been growing exponentially as the compression market has been growing, and they had to make an effort to meet all the demands, says brand manager Paul Copson. “Some of the best teams and players in the world wear Skins.”
 
Steven Kitshoff wears the Skins shorts and top with the short sleeves. “It definitely helps with recovery,” he says. “When you play loosehead prop the pulling on your clothing is severe, but the compression stays right there in place.”
 
Duane Vermeulen wears his compression before the game. “It makes me feel better if I train with the shorts on. I also feel more confident when I wear it.”
 
Dewaldt Duvenage believes that the compression garments definitely helps recovery on planes.
 
“But you must make sure you get the right size,” adds Copson.  They are sized according to BMI and you need a specific size for your height and weight – if you wear compression that is too small, it would affect you, as he knows from experience. “I wore too small compression socks and started feeling nauseous. That’s how I know compression really works.”

 

Skins compression 

Published by www.sportstrader.co.za

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