Business Maverick


After the Whistle: The Boks’ mouthwash kit is not in the best of taste

After the Whistle: The Boks’ mouthwash kit is not in the best of taste
Anybody who watched the Springboks’ match against Scotland will have noticed the team is wearing a kit that bears a terrible resemblance to mouthwash. (Photo: Steve Haag / Gallo Images)

I don’t really care that much about what the Boks wear; I’ll support them in any colour, but it does make me a bit sad for the world where self-appointed virtuousness trumps an easygoing, broadminded acceptance of the differing realities we all face.

Listen, it’s not a huge issue in our lives. There are more important subjects out there. I know. But may I just please, very briefly, in passing, register an objection to the Boks’ kit? Anybody who watched the match against Scotland will have noticed the team is wearing a kit that bears a terrible resemblance to mouthwash.

My podcast interlocutor, Mark Barnes, speculates on our next podcast, to be published on Wednesday, 13 September, that the real reason we won against the Scottish was because they spent the entire first half giggling at what the Boks were wearing.

The colour, because it’s so awful, naturally has a hyperbolic name. The official colour description is “Hyper Jade”. There is a type of jade, the semiprecious stone, which does in fact look like this mouthwash. But jade comes in a variety of different colours ranging from yellow to red, so the kit looks nothing like a lot of jade. Hence, if you follow my logic, it is impossible to be an enhanced version of jade.

The most treasured jade — and here is a great irony — is very close to the dark green colour of the Boks’ No 1 kit, which is the traditional green and gold. But the Boks will only be playing in two matches in that kit in the very likely event that they make it all the way to the final.

There is also a No 3 kit, which is, god save us, also Hyper Jade — just a little bit less of it. So why would the designers of the Boks’ kit choose such an awful colour? Political correctness of course.

Hyper Jade (I think you have to capitalise the colour because it’s just so powerhouse) is designed to help people who are colour blind distinguish between the teams. I am not making this up. If you have one team playing in dark blue — as the Scots do — and one team in dark green, it can be difficult for colour blind people to follow.

Read more: Springboks and All Blacks can never meet again in their primary kit – new World Rugby regulations

The problem with the kit is not, in my humble view, the desire to take account of the physical shortcomings of the visually impaired — I have enough shortcomings myself to be strongly in favour of advantaging the impaired. It’s just that colour blindness is not “blindness” in any sense; this is a popular myth. Of all the handicaps out there, colour-“blind” people are arguably the least “disadvantaged”.

Red-green colour-“blindness” — the most common kind — affects about 9% of male Caucasians and about 4% of Africans, but the degree varies widely. It’s caused by a defect in the X chromosome. Since women have two X chromosomes, one typically makes up for the other, so very few women are colour blind. Men only have a single X chromosome, so if it’s defective, they are stuffed. It is hereditary and it varies in intensity. It shows up on those circular cards with blobs that your eye doctor might show you, asking you to identify letters or numbers.

Many of my colleagues are very in favour of the Boks’ kit — and why not, particularly since nobody wants to seem like they don’t care about the visually impaired. They do make several interesting points in favour of the kit. Hyper Jade was pioneered in SA as a sports kit by Orlando Pirates and many homesteads in the rural areas are now painted in that colour. It is also the colour of one of the sponsors, FNB.

Orlando Pirates in the Hyper Jade kit may have inspired the new Springbok kit.

Hyper Jade was pioneered in SA as a sports kit by Orlando Pirates. (Photo: Richard Huggard / Gallo Images)

after the whistle

Many homesteads in rural areas are now painted in Orlando Pirates’ Hyper Jade kit colour. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Daily Maverick)

But here is a problem; one of the two colours of Checkers’ 60/60 logo is, you guessed it, Hyper Jade, so Checkers is getting a bit of a free sponsorship ride. It is also far from the colours of any of the other 31 sub-sponsors, most notably MTN, the official jersey sponsor.

Now for a devious twist. Nike is the apparel sponsor and Nike has released takkies over the past few years which feature — yes! — Hyper Jade. I, for one, would like to know how much influence they had over the choice of colour. I suspect something nefarious. Just saying.

This whole issue turns on branding. Ask any marketing guru about the importance of colour and you will get a mouthful; it’s absolutely crucial to the identity of the product. People cringing over the Springbok kit are doing so, I suspect, because instinctively they recognise that abandoning your brand colour reduces all the great strengths that brands build: identity, uniqueness and chronology, to name just a few.

And there is one other thing: you can buy EnChroma glasses to rectify colour blindness for around R200, so it’s not like our colour blind brethren are absolutely helpless. I’m not sure how well they work, but Stage Four cancer this is not.

As I say, it’s not a huge issue: I don’t really care that much about what the Boks wear; I’ll support them in any colour.

It does make me a bit sad for a world where self-appointed virtuousness trumps an easygoing, broadminded acceptance of the differing realities we all face. Overstated righteousness strengthens the hand of the dubious by providing opportunities for populist ridicule. Of course, we should be more concerned about people with impairments; but the cost of the solution should be aligned with the nature of the problem, otherwise we are just providing fodder for comedians and dodgy politicians. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Wilhelm Boshoff says:


  • Wilhelm Boshoff says:


  • James Harrison says:

    Politically correct insanity. Next we will be saying that people with body dysmorphia can ligitimately demand to have their limbs amputated. At what point can the dog remind the tail that it’s a tail?

  • Bryan Shepstone says:

    Hear hear!

  • Alpha Sithole says:

    Colour blind people can’t see that the Springboks wear WHITE shorts and the All Blacks wear BLACK? Really… it’s not like they’re reffing the game and making crucial decisions based on what they see.

  • Michael Thomlinson says:

    I am an old optometrist and I have a friend who is both an optomtrist and colour blind. So take this from us: “Colour Blind” is definitely a misnomer. It is not blindness. Any non colour blind person is not sure what a colour blind person sees but they can distinguish one colour from another otherwise you would have a lot of them jumping traffic lights! (hmm, maybe a lot of taxi drivers are colour blind?). They just see colours differently and do not match colours well. Apparently shades of the same colour are more difficult to distinguish but I doubt if they would have any difficyulty seeing the difference between Scotlands blue and our Springbok green especially if our guys have yellow trim on the tops and white shorts. The incidence of colour blindnes is pretty low and many pople, if they have not been tested for it, would not even know that they were colour blind. I think this is simply a political ploy to get rid of the traditional colours and the Springbok logo. A real shame. I think we should start a petition?

  • Alley Cat says:

    I agree. Wokism gone mad at the expense of OUR springbok brands. I HATE the colours but, like you I will still support the springboks in any colour. Just one correction, the enchroma glasses cost around R2000, NOT R200.
    I have a son who is colour blind and I have never noticed him supporting the “wrong” team because he couldn’t distinguish who the bokke were!

  • Jon Quirk says:

    I liked the way Rassie used the bright yellow helix light to virtue signal to all and sundry … distract? Or deflect?

  • Lilla Amos says:

    Sorry everyone, I love the colour and think the outfit is fun, sporty and funky! Go Bokke!!!!!!

  • Michael Barry says:

    Maybe we should call them the Ice Cream Sodas, a Sunday morning social rugby group.

  • André van Niekerk says:

    I suspect that people who think this is ok and cool, are probably the same people who like going to one-day cricket matches, to meet their funky friends for a lekka jol, dop and chatter; and sit with their backs to the game having fun.

  • Ritey roo roo says:

    My partner is colour blind and says this is a lot of rot

  • David Engle says:

    I’m colour-blind and cannot tell if the Hyper-Jade is pale blue or pale green! The green and gold are easy for me to identify.

  • Denzil Feinberg says:

    Tim Cohen’s research & humour are marvellous, full praise! Points well made & should be taken seriously.
    Denzil ex Cape Town in Canada since 1977.

  • Richard Jurgens says:

    Mouthwash? To me the strip made even the massive Springbok pack look like diddums going sleepy-time.

  • Andrew Blaine says:

    Can anybody explain what was wrong with the white strip with green collar?

  • John James says:

    Yes, political correctness, or as it used to be called in the good old days, good manners and common decency. We all know it was branding so why even give those who are against plain common decency a gap to vent about political correctness

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