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Canterbury enjoys England rugby kit sales surge, Umbro to take over in 2020

Anthony Watson of England catches the high ball during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan (Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The England rugby union team will be kitted out by UK-based sports brand Umbro from September 2020 – despite especially strong sales for the incumbent kit supplier Canterbury in the last week of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Sports industry sources have confirmed to SportBusiness that an agreement, reported in the Daily Mail, October 5, has been sealed between Umbro and the Rugby Football Union, with more than nine months left on the Canterbury contract.

Umbro reportedly beat rival sports brand adidas to the England deal for the next cycle and will be paying more than £5m per year ($6.4m/€5.8m).

SportBusiness understands that the current deal with Canterbury is worth about £5m per year. The contract expires at the end of August 2020, with sales in the four-year cycle enhanced by England’s successful run to the Rugby World Cup final.

According to figures released last week by Rugby Football Union partner, Fanatics, which runs Englandrugbystore.com and the retail store at Twickenham Stadium, sales of official England Rugby merchandise were up 450 per cent in the five days following the semi-final win against New Zealand, compared to the entire week following victory against Australia in the quarter-final.

Put another way, more than 40 per cent of all sales of official England merchandise made during the six-week tournament came in the five days after the New Zealand match.

Canterbury itself reported that England shirts and other products accounted for more than 60 per cent of all sales on the Canterbury website after the semi-final.

Read this: England rugby team to return to Japan in 2020

It is not unusual for governing bodies to renew deals before the on-field performance outcome of major tournaments are known.

In the last cycle, the RFU announced its extension with Canterbury just before England’s 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign on home territory, which ended in elimination at the first group stage. As the incumbent brand had renewed, there was no conflict in announcing the extension one year out.

Umbro will kit out the England team, starting with the autumn internationals in 2020. The brand has traditions in rugby union as kit supplier to England and the British & Irish Lions in the 1980s, but has done little of note in the sport over the last decade. Umbro was the main kit supplier for the England national football team for almost 30 years from 1984 to mid-2013.

The brand is a subsidiary of the US clothing company Iconix Brand Group, which bought the brand from Nike for $225m (€202m) in 2012.