x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Gatland: Black kits are a sign of respect to hosts

The Wales coach, Warren Gatland, from New Zealand, says that Wales and England are showing respect to their hosts by taking black kits to the Rugby World Cup.

Warren Gatland said the decision by Wales and England to take black change kits to the Rugby World Cup is a mark of respect towards New Zealand.

England, especially, have been criticised by certain elements in New Zealand angered because they feel the World Cup away shirt disrespects the All Blacks.

Wales also have a black change jersey for the World Cup campaign in New Zealand - albeit it with red panels on each side - and Gatland, the Wales coach, believes it should be viewed in a positive fashion.

England will wear their new apparel against Wales in Saturday's opening World Cup warm-up Test at Twickenham.

Gatland, a New Zealander, said: "A lot of people are making issues out of having a black kit, but we have had a black away kit in the past. In professional sport there are commercial implications in kits, and I see going to New Zealand with a black kit as a sign of respect to the All Blacks.

"We all know how important the black kit has been to New Zealand, and how significant it has been in rugby and other sports.

"The black jersey is about respecting New Zealand as a nation and as a rugby country. That is the way we are looking at it."

Gatland will name his starting line-up for Twickenham today, with Matthew Rees, the captain, the only confirmed non-starter as an ongoing neck problem continues to be treated. Sam Warburton, who led Wales against the Barbarians in June, will again lead the side.

And one of Warburton's back-row colleagues could be Gareth Delve, who will realise a lifetime rugby ambition if he makes the Wales squad for next month's showpiece.

Delve, fresh from a first full season of Super Rugby with the Melbourne Rebels, is about to embark on an August Test schedule that will decide his World Cup fate.

And the former Gloucester captain is determined to do everything in his power to be part of a 30-man group that leaves for New Zealand on August 31.

He has never previously played in a World Cup - shoulder and knee problems during an injury-hit career wrecked his hopes in 2003 and 2007 - yet Delve has arguably found the form of his life.

"It is great to be involved and have a chance to get on the plane for New Zealand," he said. "My ambition has always been to play in the World Cup, and it is up to me now to show that I am worth a place. It is a big opportunity for me.