US sportswear giant NIKE will become the technical apparel partner of the South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby) national governing body and the South Africa national rugby union team from July 2023.

The six-year deal, announced today (September 26), will cover the 2023 (men’s), 2025 (women’s), 2027 (men’s), and 2029 (women’s) editions of the Rugby World Cup top-tier international teams tournament.

Nike will supply all of the Springboks’ national teams – including the women’s team, the men’s and women’s sevens teams, and the junior teams – with playing kit, off-field apparel, and footwear.

Its logo will appear on team kits, with Nike-branded jerseys to be on sale from July 2023.

Nike returns to the role having previously served as technical apparel partner for the Springboks between 1996 and 2003 and will replace Japanese sportswear brand ASICS, whose contract comes to an end at the end of 2022.

Carsten Unbehaun, chief executive of Asics in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia (EMEA), said: “Asics has been a proud sponsor of the South African Rugby Union since 2014, supporting their national squads, including the famous Blitzboks Sevens and Springboks teams.

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“However, since 2020, Asics EMEA has been realigning its activities to focus on key sports categories – running, tennis, and indoor. Consequently, and in agreement with the South African Rugby Union, Asics will not renew the contract.”

Jurie Roux, chief executive of SA Rugby, added: “We enjoyed a great relationship with Asics and really appreciate the contribution that the company made over the past eight years.

“It’s always sad to see a valued partner depart but we understand that business strategies shift over time and we wish Asics well in its continued journey in South Africa.

 “We’re delighted to welcome Nike on board. It is an iconic global brand whose vision for their Springbok partnership impressed us from our first conversation.

“Nike has big plans for the partnership and we’re looking forward to formally launching our new alliance next year.”

Among SA Rugby’s other partners are McDonalds, Castle Lager, Gilbert, Dove, Dell Technologies, Hyperice, and Toyota.

Most recently, it partnered with Qatar Airways as part of a multifaceted deal for the national carrier that also involves the United Rugby Championship (URC) league and the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) continental governing body.

Image: David Rogers/Getty Images