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Ireland and Wales consider shirt changes to aid colour-blind rugby fans

Ireland and Wales could face each other in their traditional plain green and red shirts for the last time during a Six Nations game later this month in a bid to assist colour-blind rugby supporters.

The green-red combination poses particular problems for those suffering from colour-blindness and it will be an issue when reigning Grand Slam champions Ireland face Wales in Dublin on February 24. 

Around one in 12 men suffer from colour vision deficiency (CVD) and one in 200 women, globally.

World Rugby regulations that will come into force from January next year mean Six Nations teams will be expected to avoid kit clashes that make it harder for spectators and television viewers suffering from CVD to follow a game.

The onus will be on the visiting team to make a change if needed. 

“Kit colour clashes do change the way you watch a game, and I have absolute empathy with those whose enjoyment is affected as a result,” Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Abi Tierney said Wednesday. 

“Our current alternate kit is black, and we have used green in the recent past. Neither of these examples particularly help with this issue,” she added. 

“But there are other ways to work around the issues, and kits with significantly different designs can help avoid the problem too…If one team is in checks and the other is in stripes, for example, then colours become pretty irrelevant.”

The tradition in rugby where both teams have similar colours for their first-choice shirts is for the home side to wear their second-choice strip.

The practice dates back to rugby union’s amateur era, when the home team were more likely to have a change of shirt to hand and the away side were considered guests.

So matches between ‘blue’ teams in the Six Nations — Scotland, France and Italy — would usually see the host nation wearing their alternative strip. 

France, however, wore white for their controversial 20-16 win over Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday, with the Daily Telegraph reporting the move was pushed by the Six Nations committee, with CVC Capital Partners owning a 14.3 percent stake in the Championship.

Executives are understood to believe that playing at home should mean full home advantage, with teams in their primary kits.

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