Canterbury is one of the rugby world’s most storied and respected makers, but in recent years the New Zealand brand has, ironically, seen its profile steadily decline in the southern hemisphere, with the brand being far more visible on pro and international teams up north. In fact, as a result of South Africa’s defection to Asics from 2014, the Waratahs are now probably the most prominent outfit in southern hemisphere rugby union to still be supplied by Canterbury.
There’s been a real clash of philosophies in Super Rugby kit design this year. On the one hand you have the likes of the Crusaders, Bulls, Chiefs and Stormers going for designs that are unapologetically modern, busy, and boundary-pushing (with debatably successful results), while the likes of the Reds, Highlanders, Rebels and Bulls have stripped things right back to almost aesetic levels of simplicity.
The Tahs home shirt falls squarely into the latter category. In recent years, the Waratahs home shirts have been the model of restrained, classic simplicity – last year’s example was one of our favourite shirts ever, for example – but this year takes things to new extremes.
Where we once had black or dark blue contrasting the undeniably lovely sky blue primary shade of the top, here we just get one colour and minimal ornamentation, creating a design that’s almost unfinished in its spartan-ness. It’s very the same basic template as the new England shirt, with the same ribbing across the front of the jersey, but it’s somehow even more plain – but it’s very hard to dislike.
Let’s not forget, times are tough in Australian rugby right now, and money is, to quote St Mick of Hucknall, too tight to mention, so perhaps the Tahs just didn’t want to fork out for that extra colour?
Or… perhaps, they just spunked all their jersey-design budget up the wall on the alternate shirt…
We know what you’re thinking – ‘oooh’. And y’know what, you’re right to think ‘oooh’. At first glance, it’s hard not to enjoy the combination of the dark blue, the white and the subtle sky blue stripe, with the unusual soft-V design on the midriff – it’s very reminiscent of this year’s Bayonne home shirt from Kappa. And while that shirt was one of our favourite Northern Hemisphere shirts this year, you’d be forgiven for wondering if this is one of the most handsome offerings in Super Rugby this season… we mean it has to be, doesn’t it?
Oh for fuck’s sake.
Yup, in case you hadn’t already guessed, that is indeed the outline of the state of New South Wales, shat onto the back of an otherwise gorgeous shirt. In shirt-design terms, it’s the equivalent of drawing a cock and balls on the Mona Lisa. We’re staggered, honestly, as to what the thought process behind this was, asides from perhaps a massive amount of PCP and a fair dollop of self-loathing.
Ugly kits are fine, we see them all the time, but when an otherwise lovely kit is just ruined by a rather baffling design decision, it makes us properly angry. What’s more, from a practical point of view, the state outline looks too small to fit a number on, so they’re going to have to fit a number on there that’s somehow visible over both dark blue and white, and there’s no way that’s not going to end up looking like a three-year-old’s fridge drawing.
While the home shirt is undeniably simple and appealing, there’s no way that it can make up for the complete cock up that is the back of the alternate jersey – ruining a potentially great shirt by not knowing when to leave well alone is one of our biggest pet peeves, and as such there can only be one verdict…
SHIT/GOOD RATING: ONE AS GOOD AS THE OTHER IS SHIT