Nike trial new hi-tech jerseys

England and France trialled a top-secret new Nike shirt, featuring reflective ‘eye triggers’, at the Dubai Sevens this weekend.

Nike officials made a flying visit from Amsterdam to conduct the experiment under floodlights during England’s pool victory over France on Friday.

The shirts, worn for the one game only by a selection of players, were decorated with twelve silver circles across the shoulders and down the back of the arms.

Nike videoed the match and the players involved – including Marcel Garvey and Dominic Shabbo – were quizzed on the bus journey back to the team base, largely on whether the cat’s eyes had helped with their peripheral vision.

Nike officials then reclaimed the jerseys and returned to Holland, refusing to reveal even to the England management the exact purpose of the trial.

The French players, whose kit is also made by Nike, conducted the same experiment during the game.

An England spokesman said: “It is all a bit of mystery but we are happy to help Nike out – especially if it ends up giving our players an edge when they take the field.

“No-one knows exactly what they were trying to discover from this trial but I think it was something to help the players’ peripheral vision.

“It is probably no co-incidence either that we were asked to wear shirts with eye triggers attached for our game under floodlights.

“When they questioned the squad afterwards, Nike seemed to be interested in how well the discs had caught the players’ eyes.”

One England international competing in a fringe tournament in Dubai doubted whether the reflective discs would be much use at all given they were on the back of the jerseys.

Even if the eye triggers are adopted by Nike, it is thought unlikely they will be developed in time for use during Rugby World Cup 2007.

This weekend’s trial is just the latest in a long line of kit developments tested by Nike.

The sportswear giant was the first to introduce skin-tight jerseys, which England, France and South Africa wore at the 2003 World Cup, following recommendations made by Sir Clive Woodward.

Three months ago the Royal Marines helped Nike test a bizarre all–in–one kit, which looked like a pair of long-johns, in a specially-arranged friendly against Plymouth Albion.

365 Digital

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