RFU apologises over England Victoria Cross shirt design

England's players model the new home shirt at its launch this week

The Rugby Football Union has said sorry for any offence caused by the new England playing kit which incorporates the design of the Victoria Cross.

The shirts were launched this week, but Victoria Cross Trust chairman Gary Stapleton criticised the RFU for their lack of contact over the emblem's use.

Stapleton claimed the move has "touched a raw nerve with a lot of people".

An RFU statement said: "We would like to apologise to those who may have taken offence with our new kit."

England will wear the new Canterbury-manufactured shirt, which features rubber grips shaped in the Victoria Cross emblem, for the first time against world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on 8 November.

England rugby shirt
The Victoria Cross design on England's shirts consists of small rubber grips

The Victoria Cross, the British and Commonwealth armed forces' most prestigious medal, has only been awarded 1,354 times during its 158-year existence, most recently in 2012.

The RFU statement added: "We are huge supporters of our service personnel and respect and value their support for England.

"We will be contacting the Victoria Cross Trust and the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association to see how we can also support their worthwhile work going forwards."