allblacks.com 11.Feb.2013Getty Images
New Zealand's referees will be stepping out in pink this year thanks to an exciting three-year sponsorship deal which includes naming rights for the Heartland Championship, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and Pink® Batts® announced today.
Pink® Batts® will sponsor New Zealand's referees for the Investec Super Rugby, ITM Cup and renamed Pink® Batts® Heartland Championship.
The deal means a new strip for referees with the pink socks, shorts and shirt uniform making a debut next weekend in round two of Investec Super Rugby when the Highlanders host the reigning champions, the Chiefs in Dunedin and the Hurricanes host the Blues in Wellington. The referees' new pink kit will carry the catch-line 'Another Good Call'.
NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew welcomed the new partnership as a great acknowledgement of the role referees play in rugby.
"We are delighted to have Pink® Batts® join our rugby team of sponsors and they do so in a significant way through sponsorship of referees across three levels of competition.
"We're also thrilled Pink® Batts® is taking on naming rights for the Pink® Batts® Heartland Championship which hasn't had a title sponsor for some years. This will certainly help the profile of what is an important tier in our domestic competitions."
Pink® Batts® General Manager Tony Te Au said they were proud to get in behind referees and show support for the guys on the field that are often the unsung heroes of any match.
"Referees are crucial to each and every game of rugby; they are the backbone of the game. As a company we wanted to get in behind them and show our support - not just visually but behind the scenes as well.
"We're thrilled that because of our iconic colour the referees will really stand out and be noticed. And we're working with the NZRU to develop additional mentoring opportunities for refs," he said.
Pink® Batts® National Marketing Manager Dion Hurinui said: "To further show our support for the refs, we're inviting fans to join the 'Pink® Batts® 'Another Good Call Movement'. We have some really fun, interactive activities planned for the games that will celebrate the refs."
NZRU High Performance Referees Manager Rod Hill said: "We're looking forward to raising the visibility of referees to rugby followers and if the colour gets people talking then that's fantastic. What's really important is that Pink® Batts®' support will help increase awareness and interest in what referees do, while helping us to retain the current crop of referees."
New Zealand referee Chris Pollock said: "If wearing pink means we can encourage more people to be involved in refereeing at all levels of the game, and that more people recognise that refereeing can be great fun, then I'm all for it."