RFU Apologises For Use Of Victoria Cross On New England Kit
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The Rugby Football Union has apologised for including a Victoria Cross design on the new England shirt.
The governing body has been criticised for using the image of the medal on the recently-released home and away shirts, which retail at around £90.
The Victoria Cross, the British and Commonwealth armed forces’ most prestigious medal, has only been awarded 1,354 times during its 158-year existence, most recently in 2012.
In a statement, the RFU said: “We would like to apologise to those who may have taken offence with our new kit. It was certainly never our intention to cause this.
“We are huge supporters of our service personnel and respect and value their support for England.
“We have a longstanding relationship with the Royal British Legion, supporting their poppy appeal at the relevant Twickenham international every year and have helped raise over £2 million for them and for other service charities such as Help for Heroes.
“We will be contacting the Victoria Cross Trust and the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association to see how we can also support their worthwhile work going forwards.”
Gary Stapleton, chairman of the Victoria Cross Trust, hit out at the decision to use the medal as part of the shirt’s design.
“It’s very frustrating when you see the image being used for marketing purposes,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“I think about how much work we put in and the volunteers put in and the work we do restoring the VC graves, and here’s an organisation that’s probably going to make quite a large amount of money from sales of said shirts.
“It would’ve been a bit more appropriate if they’d said they’d like to do this because they believe what the Victoria Cross represents and would like to benefit a charity that does actually care about the history of the VC.”
The new shirts – the traditional white jersey and a new crimson alternate shirt, which retail at around £90 – feature Victoria Cross designs that comprise numerous small rubber grips to help deaden the impact of the ball.
The white shirt will be on show for the first time when England take on New Zealand in the opening autumn Test on November 8.