Rhino have a great six months ahead of them.
That’s the view of Dave Reynish, managing director of Rhino Teamwear, as the popular rugby brand gears up for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in June and is immersed in this year’s RBS Six Nations Championship, which began on February 4.
They are the official supplier of training equipment and official training and supporters ball collection licensee to the British and Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand in 2017 (having performed both roles also for the Lions tour to South Africa in 2009 and Australia in 2013).
Reynish said: “The biggest thing for us this year is our association with the Lions.
“They will be using our scrum machines and technical training equipment, but we have also got the license for the balls as well, training and replicas.”
The full range of official Lions balls will include the official training ball along with a comprehensive range of replica and commemorative designs in full size, mini and midi sizes as well as keyrings.
The Official Training Ball will be used by the squad in preparation for the Tour. Reynish added: “There are 15-16 different replica balls. It’s a very big thing for us this year.
“So, obviously, between now and the tour in June we will be focusing heavily on that, getting maximum coverage and sales.
“The balls seem to be going well at retail – the reorders have been well in excess of what we have had during the past two tours.
“I think, as well, that it is the first time in a long time we might have a chance of winning a tour in New Zealand.” Rhino are also the Official Licensee of the RBS 6 Nations Supporters Collection and this year the imminent Lions tour is creating even more interest in the world’s most popular rugby championship.
Reynish said: “The good thing with the Six Nations is that everyone is not just focusing on the championship but also thinking about Lions’ selection. Which is great for us as well.
“We currently have the clothing and supporters collection licence for the Six Nations and that’s going well and we are hopefully looking to extend that going forward.
With a new sponsor for the 6 Nations on the horizon from next season, there could be renewed interest in the 6 Nations supporters collection and we hope to continue to be involved. Rhino are also the Official Ball and Apparel Supplier to the Guinness PRO12.
And Reynish is pleased that Rhino is positioned so highly within the sport.
He said: “We are happy to be involved with these brands. The Guinness PRO12 League in rugby union and the Super League in rugby league firmly establish Rhino as a quality international standard ball, which is great.
“Guinness are a particularly strong sponsor and its been a great association for us.”
Reynish believes that there are good times ahead for Rhino and that they can further expand their brand within the rugby world.
He said: “In the ball market, Gilbert has a massive share and is at number one with a great number of deals and licences.
“We are really the only other brand that has these kinds of deals.
“We are serious in the ball market and there is room for us to grow as no other brands seem to wish to contest it.
“We feel there is a little bit of a gap which we, as a great rugby brand with the history we have got, can fill.”
However, despite their rugby background Rhino do not see themselves as a single sport brand. They have expanded rapidly in recent years via an aggressive programme of geographical and product licensing, and across a wide range of sports. Their ranges included tops, jackets, baselayers, hoodies and bags.
Reynish said: “Our heritage is in rugby but we are very active in the university market and we do
make sublimated kit for hockey, netball and volleyball etc.
“That part of the business is going well and we supply a number of universities, schools and clubs on that side of things as well.
“We don’t see ourselves as a rugby-only brand, although that is our strength and heritage, but we don’t want to be totally pigeonholed into that area.”
But in the midst of the Six Nations, a Lions tour not far off and business opportunities on the horizon, things are looking good for Rhino.
Reynish said: “We have been involved with clothing for a long time but for the last two years we have really been looking to get the balls and accessories side of our business going.
“And what we are finding is that people are looking upon us quite favourably.
“There’s definitely a gap in the market at the moment, fingers crossed it seems to be going quite well and going in the right direction. “We have a great six months ahead of us. We are really looking forward to that.”