For a relatively minor test-playing nation, it always feels as though Canterbury puts an awful lot of time, effort and ingenuity into creating USA Eagles kit. Over the last few years we’ve seen some of the nicest, boldest shirt designs in all of rugbydom to come out of that partnership.
Maybe it’s that rugby is a very niche sport in the States, so they’re not bound by convention as many of the Tier 1 test nations are, maybe it’s that they have to compete with some of the eye-catching uniform designs in America’s other oval-ball sport, or maybe that flag is just a great colour palette and template for bold, aesthetically pleasing shirt designs. We mean, just look at what we’ve had recently – from this stars ‘n’ stripes number to last year’s none-more-Captain America third shirt – they’ve never put a foot wrong, while really pushing the boundaries.
That said, maybe in a country where this sort of thing is considered acceptable going out attire, Canterbury are just desperately trying to keep up with the trends…
By that measure, this year’s Eagles home shirt is positively demure, but that’s not to say it’s not without interest. The stripes along the front are reminiscent of this year’s Leinster shirts, but less wavy, and they’re a subtle, classy way of adding some good ol’ US of A stripes, even if they’ve not got any stars to go with them. Maybe they used all of those up (along with their year’s supply of magic mushrooms) on that batshit but brilliant USA Sevens Alternate shirt. With a nice splash of blue to the shoulder, it’s a happy medium between bold and restrained. Nice
Restrained isn’t a word you’d probably bandy around about the alternate shirt, however, and it’s all the better for it. Like a giant, gas-guzzling pickup truck with a weeping golden eagle airbrushed onto the hood, it’s big, brash and about as American as Big Macs, apple pie and economic imperialism.
We’ve had mixed feelings about half-stripey/half-plain shirts this year. We quite like Sarries’ current shirt design, yet this year’s Canterbury ITM Cup shirt made us want to poke our eyes out with rusty pins. It’s shirt-design Buckaroo of the most delicate and difficult kind.
Any yet here, we think they’ve pulled it off. By going for the skinny stripes on the bottom half it doesn’t look so blocky that it’s a mess, while the large blue section up top stops it going down the ‘Hello Sailor!’ route that has put a lot of people off the new England alternate shirt. If anything, our only criticism is that the away shirt somewhat feels like the design Canterbury’s kit makers wanted to do for the home shirt, but they scaled it back a bit. It’s the same elements – the stripey red and white bottom and the blue top – done a bit more conservatively. It’s not the end of the world however, and if that is what happened and they were allowed to be less conservative for the away shirt, then good on ’em for at least doing that – we just hope that USA Rugby don’t start reining in their bold designs any more in the future…
SHIT/GOOD RATING: Red, white and beautiful