After the ticker-tape highs of their Grand Final-winning 2011 Super Rugby campaign, things have gradually got worse for the Queensland Reds, but in 2014 things really went off a cliff. For the first two seasons after their first ever title, the team had at least troubled the playoffs, but last season the Reds finished in their worst position since Super Rugby moved to 15 teams – a lowly 13th – with injuries and general oldness giving new coach Richard Graham headaches all season long. Things will be expected to go much better in 2015, then, and at least the Queensland franchise will have a shiny new kit from BLK to attempt to wipe away the memories of a moribund 2014. Let’s take a look…
Last season’s Reds home shirt was a very plain, clean affair – it stripped things back to the most essential elements, and really worked as a result. This time around things aren’t quite so plain, but that’s no bad thing, we think.
One of the common threads of BLK’s design philosophy recently has been sublimated geometric patterns on the front of their shirts. We saw it most recently with the new Western Force shirt, but you only need to look at the Ospreys and the 2014 Sharks shirts to see this trend in action. Here, they’ve gone for something a little different, with a sort’ve lattice effect across the front instead. We think it looks really smart – lifting the shirt from the slightly plain vibe of last season’s effort while still keeping things nice and clean.
There’s a good deal more dark blue on show than last season, too, with piping along the side panels, the sleeve cuffs, and along the front section of BLK’s new collar style. We’ve not seen BLK split up the new-style collar like this before, but we think it really works here, adding some welcome ornamentation to break up the swathes of red.
Other than that, things are kept clean and simple, and we think that’s to everyone’s benefit here. The subtle dark blue accents keep things interesting without compromising the inherent simplicity that makes the Queensland Reds jersey cool and recognisable.
Last year we voiced our frustrations at the Reds’ main sponsor, or more particularly their rather rubbish dragon mascot/logo. He’s still there this year, and while we understand that financial concerns mean we shouldn’t complain too much about sponsors, we have to again ask why they couldn’t have maybe made our dragony friend a little smaller in relation to the text and improved matters a great deal, but maybe that’s one for next year?
Last year, we were a little lukewarm about the Reds alternate shirt, as we felt it was a little uninspired, and was a bit too much of a palette swap with the home shirt. This time however, the alternate design is a definite departure from the home, and we think it’s all the better for it.
The solid band of red across the top of the chest works really well with the red piping and hem accents, and while we’re generally of the opinion that dark blue would make a better alternate colour than white for the Reds change strip, by giving it a distinct design all of its own, we definitely appreciate what’s going on here.
Round the back, we see BLK’s new collar insert being used to add a splash of home-shirt colour to proceedings – BLK is using this panel in a variety of different ways throughout their 2015 Super Rugby collection, and we’ve really liked all the ways they’ve implemented it so far.
After last year’s super-clean affairs, 2015 has definitely seen more design flair applied to both Reds shirts this year. That’s no bad thing however, as both of these designs manage to tread a fine line, making the shirt more modern and interesting, while not going so far down that road and compromising the simplicity and attractiveness of the shirt in question. Nice.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: Good