The Rugby League World Cup came and went without too much of a bang back in October and November. While the tournament failed to spread the sport’s net beyond the strongholds of Auckland, eastern Australia and the M62 corridor, the outlandish skills and unflinching physicality of the returning NRL competition is a spectacle that any oval ball fan can enjoy. As you’d expect there’s some pretty smart jerseys on show as well, so let’s dive in and see what’s on offer…
Don’t be fooled by the name: last year’s Grand Final champs are just one of nine clubs from Sydney and the wider vicinity, calling themselves Sydney by virtue of the fact that it sounds better than Eastern Suburbs. Home to last year’s International Player Of The Year Sonny Bill Williams (you might have heard of him) and a guy called Sam Moa from Tonga who plays for, you guessed it, New Zealand, the boys from Bondi’s other nickname – the Tricolours – gives a clue to their jersey.
Employing the traditional league chevron down the chest, the ONLY difference we can spot in this jersey from ISC to last year’s jersey (and indeed 2012’s) is a slightly darker blue main colour, though in all honesty that could just be the lighting. But it’s such a classic design, why change it? The red trim on the bottom of the shirt and sleeves, as well as red arm bands and white collar give the jersey a real understated feel in a league often dominated by garish designs. The only thing we don’t like is the messy sponsor and Nandos-reject chicken in the middle, which has led those not in the know asking ‘Who are the Steggles?’
What is different is the away jersey, forsaking the slightly hexagonal red and blue collars over a white background, this years has a stark red and (very very very) dark blue chevron. Clean, crisp and bold, it reminds us a little of an old Toulouse jersey, and frankly couldn’t be further away from the garish alternate jersey.
Yes, a few NRL teams follow their northern union counterparts by fleecing fans, ahem, we mean, offering the choice of three fine jerseys a season. The thirds only tend to get one or two outings each year, with some using it as an excuse in overblown theatricality. Last year’s was a handsome stripey number, dominated by red with blue and white hoops as well, that has a whiff of a 19th-century ship hand’s uniform. This year swaps over the colours to make the aforementioned dark blue the dominant colour. As minor an adjustment as this is, it ruins the contrast of the shirt, with the large logo in the middle again becoming more conspicuous as a result.
It may grow on us but for the time being it’s definitely the weakest shirt of the three, yet it’s still not enough to drop the combined total of the main jerseys.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: GOOD
South Sydney Rabbitohs
The team co-owned by Russell Crowe flexed its muscles on the pitch last year with Greg Inglis, Isaac Luke and the four Burgess brothers helping propel them to the playoffs. And did they so in one of the most recognisable shirts in the league. Apart from the change in sponsors, this year’s home and away jersey are the spit of last year’s, both with red and green stripes, with the former employing black panelling and the latter white.
You can’t beat a good primary/secondary colour palette contrast and both certainly stand out, but for us the away is marginally the better of the two, helped by the cleaner DeLonghi sponsor and the fact that white, red and green is such a universally pleasing combination.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: GOOD
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Firm favourites of Hugh Jackman, the northern Sydney boys have been a powerhouse in the NRL in recent seasons, winning in 2011 and being beaten by the Roosters last season. And they’ve done all that will a completely cack-handed shirt. Losing out in the battle of the maroons to both the Brisbane Broncos and Queensland State Of Origin team, this simple design of white chevron with detached border and similar arm band on the maroon background could work. Sadly that Kaspersky logo chops the bottom of the fucking chevron, completely negating the only focal point of the jersey! What’s the point? WHERE’S THE POINT?!
The reversed white away jersey suffers from exactly the same problem. Luckily the fans have got used to good displays on the field while wearing their horribly boring, blunted Manly jerseys.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: SHIT
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