The Rugby World Cup is the highest profile and, arguably, most important tournament in the game. So you would think that every team would want to kit their players out in the finest attire possible. The eyes of the world are watching after all. But some of the shirts on offer this year…geesh! Red Rugby gives you the lowdown on the Top of the Tops at this year’s RWC.
Okay, so we’re being a bit unfair. Most of the shirts at Rugby World Cup 2015 fall into the good category. Two suppliers shine out above the rest though. The first of these is Canterbury, kit manufacturers of hosts England, Six Nations champions Ireland and minnows Japan and Namibia. You’ll notice that we haven’t included a picture of Namibia’s shirt below. Simple reason for that: we couldn’t find one. It could be the worst of the lot as far as we know, thus undermining all the good words we’re about to write. The England and Ireland shirts are beautifully simple with some light patterns on the chest, while the Japan kit is adorned with sartorial red stripes. Simple yet effective. The Canterbury offering can be summed up as no nonsense, no gimmicks, just a good old rugged rugby shirt. They also take our top prize for producing ‘supporters jerseys’ which feel like traditional rugby shirts. They even have a collar! Well done Canterbury,
Hot on their tail are Adidas who are serving up three shirts this time around: the blues of Italy and France and the (all) black of New Zealand. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to get the All Blacks shirt wrong. The clue’s in the title after all. Adidas have added one simple addition to the iconic jersey – a set of chevrons on the chest that give a hat tip to the ‘Invincibles” of the early twentieth century. Italy’s shirt is also pretty familiar given it’s predominantly light-blue hue. The Adidas stripes this time around are confined to a pinstripe collar, making the Azzurri shirt the only one of this year’s collection that you can also wear to work without breaking dress code. The French offering is bold with three dark stripes on each sleeve matching the dark collar outline. But it’s their away shirt that we particularly like, resplendent as it is in scarlet red.
Outside of these two manufacturing giants, there are honourable mentions for Argentina and their Nike made blue and white hooped shirt, South Africa’s earthy green number complete with yellow flashes on the sleeves (made by Asics) and Fiji’s great white beast of a top adorned with South Pacific motifs on the flanks. The fact that BLK made this kit is amazing given the shirts that are about to be mentioned in a less than favourable light. Finally, a shout-out to Scotland’s kit suppliers Macron who rolled the dice but came up with a double-six of a shirt for this year’s competition. The tartan flashes down the side and a proper rugby collar make this one of our favourites of the bunch.
And so onto the bad. The winning manufacturer in this category is, sadly, Under Armour. Now, regular readers will be aware that Red Rugby is slanted (ever so slightly) to the game in Wales. As such, we are intrinsically built to like any new Welsh shirt and dutifully wear it. However, we’ve ummed and aahed about this one for a while…which probably means it’s in the bad camp. It doesn’t help, as one Twitter user pointed out, that it looks like the uniform worn by Captain Zapp Brannigan in Futurama. It is better than that black-and-grey flashed monstrosity that Wales have been wearing for the last two years though. Elsewhere in the Under Armour range, things are more clear cut. Georgia look like they’ve been dealt a duff hand by UA, as their shirt resembles Wales’ of four years ago (how much did they pay for that design?) while Canada’s is nothing more than a training ground top with a couple of badges sewn on. Under Armour also receive our wrath for making these shirts out of some kind of flimsy soccer-style fabric. Bad form.
But they’re not the only culprits in that department. Australia’s shirt goes even further into soccer territory with something that would look more suited to Tim Cahill than Tim Horan. Aussie fans have expressed their disgust in their droves on social media, and rightly so. Tonga’s shirt (mad by Kukri) is more practical than fancy. They’ve introduced a Tongan motif on the right shoulder, but it’s not got much going for it than that. BLK’s offering for the USA team is not horrendous, but it’s not good either. The stomach full of stars places it in our bad category. Elsewhere, Uruguay are the only amateur team in the competition…not that you’d know it…ahem.
And finally to the ugly. There really was only one winner here. BLK (of Fiji and USA fame) have produced two humdingers in the shape of the Samoan and Romanian shirt. Someone in the BLK design team obviously likes his or her geometric shapes, and is quite possibly a doodler too. The etchings all over the Romanian shirt are particularly dazzling when combined with their traditional yellow colour. But top dog in the ugly stakes is the shirt which will be worn by Samoa. It’s a dark blue assault on the eyes and wouldn’t look out of place in a comic strip. Horrendous. Absolutely horrendous. Not that we’re going to be saying that to any Samoan players’ face any time soon.
Bought your favourite shirt for the Rugby World Cup? Take a photo and tweet it to @RedRugbyBlog telling us why it’s the best!
UPDATE: It’s been brought to our attention that an image on this page comes courtesy of http://www.rugbystore.co.uk/.