Munster Rugby apparel only available to buy in Lifestyle Sports from summer 2016

Jack O'Donoghue is tackled by Ulster's Andrew Trimble last week

Ralph Riegel

Munster Rugby has confirmed that a new exclusive kit agreement means it cannot directly supply jerseys to independent sports outlets from next summer.

The province yesterday confirmed a five year extension to their kit deal with German sportswear giants, Adidas, and a new exclusive agreement with Lifestyle Sports.

“Munster Rugby can confirm that the province will enter into an exclusive retail agreement with Irish-owned sports retailer Lifestyle Sports at the start of the 2016/2017 season,” Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald said.

“Lifestyle Sports has acquired the global rights to retail licensed Munster Rugby kit and accessories from the 2016/2017 season in a five year deal running concurrently with the Adidas agreement.”

Under the deal, Munster will not supply kits to independent retail outlets. To secure branded Munster kit, independent sports outlets must now reach an agreement with Lifestyle Sports. Since 2013, Lifestyle Sports has been the official retail partner to Munster Rugby. The sports chain has 19 stores across Munster with 41 outlets in total across Ireland. It also operates a successful online outlet.

“This innovative commercial deal sees Munster adopting a kit partnership and retail model employed by topflight sports clubs throughout Europe,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “This agreement will further benefit the ongoing investment and development in rugby throughout the province, strengthening the Munster Rugby brand both on and off the field.”

Munster has had a kit agreement in place with Adidas since 2007 and the new agreement will see the German firm supply all Munster kits until the end of the 2021 season. The latest deal is the third extension to the original Munster-Adidas contract. Adidas sports director, Lee Gibbons, said it has been a great partnership.

“We have had an excellent working relationship for the past eight years and we look forward to the next five years together,” Mr Gibbons said. “Adidas and Munster have enjoyed a hugely successful partnership since it began in 2007 and we are excited to extend that relationship into a new deal.”

However, the changes to Munster Rugby’s retail operations were not greeted with universal approval. Several independent sports outlets in Cork and Limerick admitted that, as they understand it, they will no longer be able to stock official Munster kit. Popular Limerick sports shop, Gleeson Sports Scene, took to social media to say that, as they understand it, they will not be able to sell official Munster kit from next summer with Lifestyle Sports the sole stockists.