As we get closer to the start of the 2014 Super Rugby season, the new shirts are flying thick and fast, and today it’s the turn of the 2011 champions, the Queensland Reds. The Reds have a new shirt sponsor this year, shifting from Kooga to BLK. Well, we say ‘new’, it’s actually a little more complicated than that…

If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll be exceedingly bored of us explaining this, so you may want to just go ahead and skip this next paragraph or two. Don’t pretend you don’t do that with most of what we write anyway – go on, bugger off!

Right, for the rest of you, you might well have noticed this season that between the Lions tour and the Autumn Internationals, the kit supplier logo on the Wallabies jersey switched from Kooga, to BLK. It’s exactly the same shirt, but a different supplier – so what gives?

Well… KooGa Australia started out in 1999 as a licensed arm of KooGa in the UK. However, as time has gone on, the brand has grown in popularity and pro-team klout, by 2010 eclipsing the exposure the UK brand was able to achieve by supplying kit to various Southern Hemisphere international teams, including Australia, as well as a raft of Super Rugby and provincial sides.

With such success, then, it’s little surprise that the company licensing the Kooga brand wanted to expand globally. With Kooga UK retaining the rights to the brand outside of Australia and the Pacific Islands, the firm created the BLK brand (Beyond Limits Known, if you’re interested. Christ…) initially to sell gear in New Zealand. However, its success soon had the Aussie firm thinking big, and it began to move the BLK brand into other areas, including Super Rugby with the Rebels and, following the Lions tour (and the end of the Kooga licensing deal), all of the previous Kooga Australia teams were rebranded as BLK, including the Reds.

While losing the Wallaby brand to Asics in the new year will be a big blow to their visibility, don’t for one second think that BLK don’t mean serious business. They’ve already signed up Top 14 royalty in Toulouse for next season, as well as the Sharks in South Africa, and rumour has it they might be adding Ospreys to their Pro12 contingent that already includes Connacht.

So, everything clear now? Never need to ask us about it again? Good? Good. Phew.

Back to this Reds shirt then… well… cut us some slack here, it’s a fucking plain red shirt that’s nearly identical to last year’s affair. What are we supposed to do with that?

The main difference to last year’s effort is with the main sponsor, which has dispensed with the horribly tacky white box, which improves the look of the front of the shirt immensely, though we have to take pause to comment on that fucking logo. Seriously, St George, you’re a bank, and your logo is a fey-looking dragon who looks like he’s been drawn by a child of five who hasn’t learned how to colour in properly. We will never trust you with our money. Grow up.

Other than that, the changes are very minor, we like the panels on the upper chest, and the tweaked collar design, and to us the shirt has a less ‘glossy’ look than last year’s example. For the last few years the reds shirts have always had a semi-shiny look to the material that made them look a little bit like they’d stepped out of Studio 54 in 1977 – and when you’ve already got Quade Cooper in your team, you don’t need anything else adding to the over-groomed pretty boy vibe…


It’s the same story with the alternate shirt really – it’s a simple palette swap of the home with the addition of some red piping that, while definitely making the shirt a bit less plain, does have a bit of an ‘extra from Shortland Street‘ vibe to it. Hmm.

It’s hard to find fault with either of these shirts really – they’re simple, uncluttered, and an improvement over last year, though we’re starting to wonder if maybe a little bit of design exuberance is required from BLK and the Reds next season…




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