| 12.8°C Belfast

RFU defend grey England kit

Paul Vaughan

Rugby Football Union business operations director Paul Vaughan has defended the controversial decision to send England out to face Australia in a new grey change kit.

England wore purple for last autumn's Test against Argentina and the RFU stand accused in some quarters of devaluing over a century of tradition with a marketing ploy.

Vaughan insisted the RFU are not undermining England's identity but responding to public demand and generating vital revenue streams to help grow the game.

"I accept there is some feeling out there that marketing is overtaking the game but actually I don't think it is true at all," said Vaughan. "How we represent ourselves effectively is predominantly through the rose. The rose is forever England.

"We will always try to maintain our traditions and white is the shirt we generally always play in.

"We have to modernise and move on a little bit. We have to meet what the public want. The fanbase is changing and we have to adapt to meet that fanbase.

"We always try and do the best we can to make sure we don't lose our traditions but we always have to try and modernise. We are playing in our change strip in order to tell people it is there."

International Rugby Board regulations state every team must have an official change strip. When England won the 2003 Rugby World Cup their official change strip was navy blue, although it was never worn and as a result only accounted for 20% of the RFU's shirt sales.

In recent years, England have played in red, purple and now a colour officially described as anthracite. Vaughan anticipates the new change jersey will account for 40% of shirt sales, generating around £2million.

"We can never please everybody and I am sure people will write to us to say it is terrible England are not wearing a white shirt," added Vaughan. "We are trying to fund the growth of the game and we need revenue streams in order to be able to do that. If we can meet the public demand as well then most people should be happy."