Here at Rugby Shirt Watch, we’re something of traditionalists when it comes to rugby. You may well have noticed, for instance, that we have a special love for shirts that look like… well, proper rugby shirts really. We’re old enough to remember the pre-pro days where excessive alcoholism and casual violence were seen as entirely acceptable facets of the game, and as such we hold much of rugby’s old values as somewhat sacrosanct. Toulon then, with their team of mercenaries bankrolled by an incredibly erratic millionaire… well, the very notion rubs us a little up the wrong way. And yet you can’t argue with results… they may have taken a while to get there, but Toulon have gradually become a proper rugby team, as two Heineken Cups and a Bouclier de Brennus currently sat in their trophy cabinet can attest.
While their on-field product has certainly been undeniably excellent in recent years, their kits, supplied by Burrda have always been… well… a bit shit, let’s be honest. They’ve invariably been fussy, tacky-looking affairs that haven’t really befitted the galaxy of international stars that wore them.
This time around, however, well… it’s pretty bloody nice, isn’t it? Things have been cleaned up and decluttered this time around – the hideous Burrda ‘wave’ on the chest has finally been condemned to the flames that it has so long deserved, and there are no weird panels or bits of piping to distract.
Instead, we have a really rather lovely black double-stripe around the middle, and a sublimated lilly-of-the-valley going across the front of the jersey. We could do without the latter, but it’s not offensive, and while we imagine that their new shirt sponsor may have had something to do with the stripes, as it fits in just a little too well, it’s a really distinctive, cool look in amongst the myriad red and black shirts in rugby.
The alternate shirt is almost gorgeous. Almost.
Just look at the ingredients they’ve got to play with here – grey, with black and red accents… it should be an absolute winner, especially with the contrasting red and black stripes around the middle…
But they’ve gone and fucked it up, haven’t they? Yup, instead of plain grey, they’ve given the shirt this hideously ugly faux-gym-t-shirt effect. You know, like this.
Quite what possessed the folks over at Burrda to go with this is truly beyond us, but it achieves the remarkable feat of making a rugby shirt that doesn’t look like a rugby shirt… or like a t-shirt either for that matter. Instead, it’s just a complete mess.
The third shirt is a basic palette swap of the home shirt, and in many ways it’s the best of the bunch – the red bands look really nice around the middle, and is nicely set off by the red on the collar, too. It’s not as daring as the away shirt, not at all, but as the away proves, sometimes playing it safe is no bad thing.
While we’re here though, we really need to have a word with the good people of RC Toulon about their identity issues. When you’re two-time champions of Europe, and Champions of the Top14, you don’t need to be insecure about your identity – people know who you are. So for pity’s sake, can we lose the giant ‘RC TOULON’ off the front of the jersey? It’s in such a bland font it looks like it’s been left there as a placeholder and then someone forgot, but it’s no accident – it’s been present on Toulon jerseys for some time. Toulon already have a badge – it’s literally about two inches above – and just because it doesn’t say ‘RC Toulon’ doesn’t mean you have to remind everyone. Stop it.
So… a home shirt that’s really rather nice, and an away shirt that’s really rather not and a third shirt that’s a little bland, but rather nice on the whole.. The away shirt is a risible mess of baffling design wankiness ruining what could be a really nice jersey, and despite the home shirt’s charms and the third shirt’s boring niceness, we just can’t bring ourselves to give a positive review to anyone who feels the need to remind us what the club is called in such a hideously tacky fashion.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: SHIT