For the last few seasons, Bath have been the perennial nearly men. Despite recruiting impressively (and expensively), and looking at various points like they were finally ready to live up to the hype and expectation that being one of England’s grand old clubs (not to mention one with a billionaire sugar daddy), they’ve always fallen just short. This season however, Bath look like they’re finally getting it together – time will tell if it’s another false dawn, but in the mean time, we can at least pass judgement on the clobber they’ll be wearing while chasing Premiership glory.
After a long association with Puma, Bath opted to go it alone two seasons ago – quite literally. Rather than sign a sponsorship deal with a recognised kit supplier, the West Country club instead opted to work with clothing supplier Tri Distribution to produce all their club apparel in-house. Not that Tri are unfamiliar with rugby – they already work with the WRU and RFU among others to produce their non-sponsor-branded clothing (you know, this kinda thing…), but it’s still an unusual step for such a big club.
The results, however, have been uniformly crowd-pleasing, design-wise, and so it is here. We’ve got the classic Bath blue, black and white hoops, accented with a simple slightly V-neck collar (the image above is the supporter’s shirt, and so has a proper collar), and some rather fetching black piping around the sleeve-join areas, and that’s it.
The major contrast from last season’s kit is the shifting of the club badge from the centre of the jersey to the traditional left breast area. While there’s nothing wrong with this in theory, we do think it looks a little odd not having a kit supplier’s logo on the right side – it makes the shirt seem a little unbalanced, somehow. We don’t see why Bath don’t follow in the footsteps of their equally big-spending West Country neighbours Bristol, who have created their own ‘Bristol Sport’ brand to supply all their kit (as well as the kit of Bristol City and various other Bristol teams).
The alternate shirt is a restrained and classy affair – plain white with some subtle blue piping around the shoulders, and a nice nod to the traditional home colours on the shirt sleeves, with the three blue, white and black hoops on either side. It’s a classy, clean shirt, that feels like a worthy complement to the classic look of the home shirt, and banishes the memory of some unfortunately garish efforts in the Puma era.
While both shirts are very lovely, the main talking point this season hasn’t been the design of the shirts themselves, but rather the sponsor on the front of them. Yup, Bath teamed up with hideously expensive hoover merchants Dyson for a rather unusual shirt sponsorship tie up. The clever idea is this – each shirt has the Dyson logo on it and then, depending on the positional group they play in, the name of a different Dyson product underneath.
It’s a clever idea, and one that works rather well for some positions, and rather comedically for others. For example, the centres and wingers have the ‘110,000rpm’ motor on the front of their jerseys, which obviously makes sense, and the back rowers having ‘On a ball’ on their chests works especially well. While the second rowers having ‘Animal’ on their shirts might have been more applicable to the days when Danny Grewcock prowled the Rec committing GBH at every lineout and ruck, it’s certainly fairly fitting…
And then there are the funny ones. We’re not sure if they’re intentionally comedic from Dyson/Bath – they have to be, surely – but it’s wonderful, either way.
First up, the half-backs and full-back, who all wear ‘Hot+Cool’ on their jerseys, which given that Bath’s two fly-halves are the young, extremely talented but a bit inconsistent George Ford and the old, extremely talented but a bit inconsistent Gavin Henson. We’re not sure if the hot and cold joke was intentional, but dammit, it works.
The final one, on the other hand, simply HAS to be a gag, and as always, it’s at the expense of the front rowers, who wear ‘digital slim’ on their shirts. Now… with the greatest respect to the modern prop, there’s something wonderfully ironic about seeing that plastered across the belly of an 20 stone man, slightly stretched due to the unforgiving nature of modern rugby shirts… bravo, Dyson, bravo.
So with two pretty classy, classic shirts, paired with some slightly intrusive but pretty clever and inventive sponsorship, it’s hard not to like both of these shirts. Often kit manufacturers can get a bit carried away with trying to do something ‘out there’ with a club’s classic look, and the results can vary wildly, by keeping things simple and traditional, Bath have created a product that looks great on the field and off it, and pays respect to the club’s heritage.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: GOOD