Not content with the new BLK home and alternate shirts that we reviewed a little while back, Irish province Connacht have now unveiled their latest new third/European. Some people get annoyed when teams release loads of new shirts every season, but frankly, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy them all. We, on the other hand, have the same attitude to new rugby shirts that Keith Richards had to pharmaceutical-grade narcotics in the 1970s – we just can’t get enough. So, let’s dive in!
This new shirt differs from Connacht Euro shirts of previous seasons by being blue as opposed to black. It’s a cool look though – we weren’t keen on the green front/blue back thing on the home shirt, so a uniform blue with contrasting blue and green sleeves is a great improvement in our book.
The most striking aspect of the design is the motif on the chest, and there’s an interesting story behind its creation. When the shirt was unvieled, RSW reader, Connacht fan and artist Morgan O’Brien got in touch to explain that he was in fact responsible for the striking motif. Way back in 2011, Morgan designed a concept alternate kit for Connacht, which he and his friend Neil then submitted to the powers that be at Connacht. The board really liked the design, and while it was never put into production, it’s interesting that they were impressed enough with the concept to keep it on file for nearly four years. You can check out Neil’s original design and get a bit more background on his blog.
Some people have been a bit meh on the design itself, but we think it’s cool – are they wings? Is that a heart? We don’t know, but it’s striking – even more so in such a bright, eye-catching shade of green.
It all hangs together very nicely with the griffons on the shoulder/sleeve areas – a feature borrowed from the home and alternate shirts. Ironically for a shirt that has so much going on, it doesn’t feel too cluttered – there’s a few different ideas here, but they’re clearly separated by piping/panelling, making the whole thing really work together.
Technically Connacht are claiming this is their third shirt, but they wore it for the first time in Europe, and that’s probably where it’s going to get the most use. That said, this is a very cool, unusual design, so we’ll be more than happy to see Connacht run out in it on a more regular basis too.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: GOOD