RFU criticised for 'disrespectful' use of Victoria Cross on new £90 England kit

Image of the medal used for rubber grips on top of the shirt

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The Rugby Football Union have been criticised over their decision to use the Victoria Cross as part of their new England away kit.

The medal design is used for small rubber grips, to "enhance ball control and retention" on the chest area of the £90 shirt.

But the the RFU and manufacturers Canterbury have been criticised for insensitive use of the design - the medal is the highest military decoration available to British servicemen for valour in the face of the enemy. Since its introduction in 1856 just 1,357 have been handed out, with only 14 of those since the end of Second World War.

The RFU and Canterbury said that "drawing on this symbol of valour is something of which England Rugby and Canterbury are honoured and very proud" but charities have hit back, claiming it is 'insensitive.

Didy Grahame, secretary of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, told The Telegraph: "It’s very disrespectful to use it out of context. That’s quite wrong." Mrs Grahame also said that the association was not consulted on the design.

The RFU was this week forced to defend the decision to release two new shirts just 12 months before they are set to release another new shirt for the World Cup.