Last year, a heinous rugby shirt crime was committed on the rugby shirt world in the proud rugby city of Pretoria. That crime was the Bulls 2014 Puma home and alternate shirts – two garments so hideously ugly, so depressingly inappropriate, so wretchedly preoccupied with being on-trend, it’s amazing that they didn’t spontaneously combust the second any self-respecting human being tried to put one on.
We weren’t great fans of the camo-patterned rugby shirt hate crime, as you might have guessed, and we were extremely glad to see the back of the ‘#Invisibull’ shirts and all the dross that came with it. However, when Puma and the Bulls started teasing the new shirts with the hashtag ‘#BullsEye’ we were initially equally concerned – another marketing gimmick, another bad pun… they were going to screw the pooch again, weren’t they?
Let’s get one thing straight by saying that this isn’t, by anyone’s measure, not the most handsome rugby shirt ever designed… and yet, it’s pretty nice, isn’t it? The use of light and dark blue feels modern and bold, yet it’s undeniably pleasing on the old eyes, and at first glance, you probably wouldn’t even twig that the design was actually a giant bull’s face on the bottom of the shirt…
Which is of course, what we need to talk about here – can a giant bovine face on the side of a rugby shirt ever really work? Well… kinda. On the face of it, it’s fairly subtle and inoffensive – well, as much as a giant bull’s face on a rugby can be subtle and inoffensive. There’s something about that eye, though… we’re sure it’s meant to look intimidating and mean but… it just looks a bit stoned to us. Hardly burning with intimidating intent, is it?
The alternate shirt is a basic palette-swap, and a perfectly nice one it is too. The giant bull’s head is a little more obvious here, which isn’t the greatest look, but by minimising the other swathes of colour, it gives the whole thing a cleaner look.
This shirt is probably the best one to demonstrate the supposed effect of ‘a herd of bulls running at you’ that Puma and the Bulls claim the shirt, en masse, is supposed to invoke. It’s a fine idea, in theory, however, we’ve noticed that the only way the effect is in any way convincing, is when players stand with facing opposite ways to each other, giving the full ‘bull’s head’ vibe. Sadly, the only time you’ll see that particular configuration on a rugby field is when something has gone dreadfully wrong.
It would have been very hard for Puma and the Bulls to make a shirt worse than last year’s effort. Pleasantly though, this one’s actually pretty decent – a classic it ain’t, but an unusual design, well executed.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: GOOD (JUST)