Over the last few years it has been hard not to notice the impact KooGa Rugby has started to have on the rugby union landscape. What is really striking about the success of KooGa recently is the amount of professional sports teams they provide rugby gear and clothing to. The list reads like a who’s who of International and club teams from both union and league.
KooGa International Rugby Teams
Internationally they supply KooGa sportswear to the Wallabies from Australia and the Fijian Rugby team, both of whom are in the top ten IRB ranked countries, with the Wallabies traditionally sitting in the top 3 countries in the world. Early in 2010 a new KooGa jersey was launched for the Wallabies.
KooGa describe the new Wallabies KooGa rugby jersey as ‘bullet proof’ and ‘indestructible’. Some of materials in the new Wallabies jersey include carbon fibre and hydrosteel, so it definitely sounds tough. The new jersey was launched on Australia Day 2010 and coincided with the announcement of a new deal between Australia and KooGa that goes till the end of 2013. KooGa also provide rugby gear to the Canada, USA Eagles and the Samoan and Tongan national teams. Lesser known international teams who also wear their kit include Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Czech Republic, Mexico and Georgia.
KooGa at the 2011 Rugby World Cup
KooGa was well represented at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Teams wearing the KooGa kit included the Australia Wallabies, Fiji, Canada, Tonga, Georgia, Canada and the United States. Only Australia progressed out of the pool stages, eventually being eliminated by the All Blacks. The Wallabies defeated Wales in the third and fourth playoff match.
Rugby Clubs who use KooGa Rugby Gear
KooGa Rugby seems to particularly dominate the professional club scene in the UK. They supply KooGa rugby gear to the likes of Llanelli RFC, the Ospreys, Scarlets, Swansea, Saracens, Harlequins and Bristol. In the Super Rugby tournament, KooGa supplies the ACT Brumbies, Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels from Australia.
Ironically, the only club in New Zealand provincial rugby who uses KooGa gear is Canterbury, the province out of which leading rugby apparel supplier and KooGa competitor, ‘Canterbury Rugby’ was born from. Canterbury sponsor the international teams of England, South Africa, Scotland and Russia, and a large number of domestic teams.
KooGa Rugby Technology
Having such an impressive stable of professional teams places them on a comparable level to traditional rugby apparel power houses as Nike, Adidas and Canterbury Rugby. Competing at this level allows KooGa to stay at the forefront of technology. They are part of the market leaders when it comes to professional rugby union apparel technology. An example of this is their revolutionary approach to match jerseys, such as the previously mentioned Wallabies jersey. They have also developed ‘Evaporex’, which is they describe as a ‘lightweight polythermal fabric’, which basically expels perspiration so the player does not get bogged down by the weight and maintains the ideal temperature for the rugby player’s body. KooGa rugby gear, such as the just mentioned rugby jerseys, KooGa headgear and other KooGa protective gear are all IRB (the International Rugby Board) approved.
KooGa Rugby League
Although KooGa specialises in rugby gear, KooGa sportswear in general has started to gain traction in other sports for being durable and technologically advanced. In professional Rugby League, KooGa has also become quite predominant, providing a variety of teams with rugby league shorts and jerseys as well as rugby league headgear where required. The Newcastle Knights, Indigenous All Stars and the NRL All Stars all use KooGa sportswear. New Zealand International Rugby League team, the Kiwis also use KooGa apparel. KooGa’s association with current NRL champions, the, Melbourne Storm, was questioned following the Storm salary cap scandal of 2010. The club was stripped of their 2007 and 2007 premierships. While a variety of sponsors ended their association, two years later KooGa still provide the Storm jerseys.
In the UK, teams league such as Wigan Warriors, Hull Kingston Rovers, Huddersfield Giants and the Bradford Bulls use KooGa sportswear as well. Former star for the Kiwi’s league team and England union player, Henry Paul, is personally sponsored by KooGa. Henry Paul has returned to league and now plays for the Harlequins.
Players Sponsored by KooGa Rugby
As well as accumulating an impressive stable of International and club teams, KooGa seem to have an impressive array of individual players representing them, particularly in the Europe club scene. Saracens and England lock England Steve Bothwick and former Wales captain Ryan Jones are both sponsored by KooGa, as is England and Bath veteran Danny Grewcock. Argentina and Leicester Tigers prop Marcos Ayerza and fellow Argentine Juan Leguizamon, who plays flanker for Stade Francais, both endorse KooGa sportswear. Italian Veteran Marco Bortolami who plays for Gloucester is also sponsored by KooGa.
Former All Blacks Bruce Reihana and Carlos Spencer were also sponsored by KooGa. Reihana and Spencer were both Northampton Saints until Carlos Spencer returned to the Super 14 to play for the Lions. I noticed recently that All Black legend Christian Cullen is employed as KooGa Rugby’s Wellington representative in New Zealand.
If it looks like there is a distinctive Northern Hemisphere flavour to the teams KooGa sponsors, it’s because KooGa is based in the United Kingdom rugby apparel company. Its head office is in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. It is clearly dominating the scene there but has started to filter south, even establishing another head office in Labrador, Queensland, Australia. Their influence on the game in the Southern Hemisphere can be seen through the supplying of KooGa rugby gear to Australian rugby union and league teams and the New Zealand rugby league team, the Kiwis. Not bad for a company that was only established in 1997.