Rugby League

Australian jersey prices plunge to 30-year low in revolutionary trial. Will NRL jumpers be next?

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The price of Australian rugby league jerseys will plunge to an almost 30-year low after the NRL agreed to trial a pilot program that could revolutionise how much fans pay to wear team merchandise.

In a move being hailed as an important step amid the cost-of-living crisis, retailers are preparing to sell the Australian men’s and women’s jerseys for $99 when the new line hits the racks in August.

It will be the lowest price for top-line jerseys since 1994 when Mal Meninga, Laurie Daley and Ricky Stuart were the stars on the Kangaroos tour.

The initiative has been pushed by Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys, who has openly discussed the difficulty for fans in supporting their club with jersey prices retailing for as much as $170. They are sold for $160 through official club channels.

But after the NRL signed the deal that will see Classic Sportswear become the official provider of Kangaroos and Jillaroos merchandise, fans will be able to buy jerseys to support the teams at the reduced prices.

Australia won the World Cup at Old Trafford last year and (inset) Mal Meninga in a 1994 jersey.Credit: Getty

The Kangaroos and Jillaroos are expected to feature in end-of-season internationals after the NRL grand final. International rugby league officials are discussing Meninga’s world champion men’s side headlining a tri-nations competition featuring New Zealand and Samoa.

The apparel will be available before the Tests at the reduced price.

Officials are forecasting the demand for jerseys will increase significantly before Christmas.

NRL clubs have been briefed about the plans, which could be a precursor to a fan-friendly reduction in price for their favourite club teams.

“The NRL expressed their desire to put in place a pilot program around their Kangaroos, Jillaroos and All-Stars licensing programs, to provide more affordable replica apparel for fans,” Classic Sportswear managing director Warren Carney said.

“The Classic brand has been part of rugby league for almost 90 years and as the largest supplier in the game we were prepared to work in partnership with the NRL to deliver this initiative without compromising on the quality of our high-performance retail garments.

“This agreement goes far beyond a supply guarantee; it signifies the essence of our partnership with the NRL and Classic’s authentic connection to the game and the fans since 1934. We are very proud of the partnerships we enjoy with our six NRL clubs, and we have been open and transparent with them about this NRL-led initiative.

“It’s a great opportunity for the fans of the game and everyone wants to see more kids and families in Kangaroos and Jillaroos jerseys. The NRL have told us they will closely monitor the success of this pilot program and share the findings with all clubs.”

Classic Sportswear also provide jerseys for the Rabbitohs, Dragons, Bulldogs, Sharks, Knights and Dolphins.

The move could put pressure on merchandise partners of the remaining 11 NRL clubs to lower the cost of jerseys for their fans if Classic’s NRL clubs follow suit, while the NSW Rugby League and Queensland Rugby League also have existing deals for State of Origin jerseys away from Classic Sportswear.

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