Another major world sporting event kicked off on Friday with the Rugby World Cup.
As well as a great spectacle, SKINS has "skin in the game" through our sponsorship of the Wallabies (Australia), the USA, Samoa and Tonga national teams.
Due to World Cup regulations, you won’t see any SKINS-branded gear on their players, but you can be certain that’s what they’re wearing and what will contribute to a winning edge.
This time around we’re going one step further in our support of the three Pacific Islands teams (which includes Fiji as well as Samoa and Tonga).
The inspiration was this wonderful film, Pacific Warriors, of which you can see a promotional clip here.
SKINS is inviting everyone to join the Pacific Island Supporters Club and make one of Samoa, Tonga or Fiji #myotherteam.
Well for a start, everyone loves their home team but everyone also has #myotherteam.
But, more importantly, it’s to help celebrate and support just what the players from the Pacific Islands give to the sport.
Just like SKINS, these guys were built to play rugby. But they don’t have the financial advantages of the "big boys" such as the All Blacks, the Wallabies, South Africa or England.
While these three teams account for 15 per cent of the teams in the Rugby World Cup, players of Pacific Island heritage make up almost 30 per cent of the players – yet the combined population of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji is only 1.2 million people.
Can you imagine where world rugby would be without the Pacific Islands? Some of the big teams wouldn’t be as competitive. And there just wouldn’t be the same passion and flair that you see in so many Pacific Islands players. The game simply wouldn’t be the same.
The situation for Pacific Islands rugby is compounded by the fact that local rugby boards make their money from hosting international matches and the television rights associated with that.
The reality is that hardly any other rugby nation wants to travel to the Pacific, which means they have very little opportunity to generate revenue of their own accord. Further, on the International Rugby Board, the three nations have only one representative between them, yet every other rugby country – including minnows like Scotland – have at least one and several have two.
So that’s why we’re encouraging all rugby fans to adopt one of the Pacific Island teams of Tonga, Samoa or Fiji as #myotherteam.
To help you do so, we’ve commissioned a series of Polynesian-designed home team rugby badges for you to adopt and share on social media. You can take a look at them here.
We’re going one step further also.
Once the Rugby World Cup is over, we’re collecting the SKINS gear from the teams we sponsor, replacing it with our normal branded kit and we’re giving it to young players in each of Samoa and Tonga. It’s our way of truly giving something back to the grassroots of the game and to help the development of young players in the Pacific Island nations.
I’ll keep you updated on this once the Rugby World Cup is over and we can get to the Pacific to make the hand-over.
In the meantime, please get on board. Join the Pacific Supporters Club. And support Samoa, Tonga and Fiji – and the wonderful players they produce – with #myotherteam.
Find your team’s Polynesian motif at www.myotherteam.net. And do yourself a favour and check out Pacific Warriors on iTunes.