Highlanders, SANZAAR explain how 'horrific' jersey clash occurred

No, these aren't two players from the same team - the Bulls and Highlanders really played the first half like this. Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark has provided context following last weekend's farcical jersey clash that grabbed the headlines from their 38-13 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria.

The first half of the match was almost unwatchable with both sides donning almost identical blue strips, before the Bulls changed into their white and yellow 'away' jerseys. Clark told Stuff.co.nz he had reservations ahead of the clash, but due to Adidas' design the side had little leeway to make changes.

"We get our jerseys when Adidas show us 'this is what we've got' as an away jersey," Clark told Stuff. "We get to tweak them a little bit but the jersey we've got is pretty similar to what they gave us."

Clark stated the Highlanders, as well as every franchise, presented their two jerseys to SANZAAR ahead of the season. The governing body then prints out the designs on paper in order to breakdown if there is likely to be a jersey clash.

"The explanation from SANZAAR was that they put them on a piece of paper and they looked different enough [to the Bulls jersey] that we were going to play in them."

SANZAAR released a statement on Wednesday admitting something should have been done ahead of the match to avoid the ridiculous scenes but provided little clarity.

"SANZAAR is disappointed that the jerseys for the Bulls versus Highlanders [green shirts] match on the weekend appeared to cause confusion," the competition organisers said.

"The Bulls changed strip at halftime to alleviate the issue and SANZAAR will endeavor to ensure similar confusion does not take place in the future."

New Zealand franchises' away kits had previously come under scrutiny after the Hurricanes played the Stormers in round one in similar blue jerseys. The kits, all designed by Adidas, are part of the 'Prime Blue' range, which are made in part by recycled plastic. As a result, the jerseys are limited to blues, whites, greens and greys.

"The Hurricanes player over in Africa early on in one of these jerseys and the clash was bad," Clark told Stuff. "It wasn't as bad as ours but it was bad and I thought, 'this will be horrific' because all the Kiwi teams, they're all similar colours really."

Ahead of the match the referee is able to force any jersey changes if they clash, but according to Clark, referee AJ Jacobs didn't have any issues ahead of kick-off.

"From what I've heard is that when you put them next to each other, like when they do the coin toss, they actually look quite different. But when you put them on the field and people are looking at them from the TV perspective or the stands then obviously there's a clash.

"If the referee had worked it out before the game he could have asked the Bulls to change at that stage."