Australia Wallabies ASICS Rugby World Cup 2015 Home Shirt

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The Rugby World Cup is just 100 days away, and with that comes a veritable cornucopia of new shirts from every nation and supplier you could possibly want. ASICS seems to be wanting to steal a march on everyone else, releasing the Springboks shirt last week, and now following up with the World Cup offering for Australia.

ASICS have been the ARU’s supplier since last season, and in that time they’ve produced a pretty uneventful, traditional-looking Wallabies shirt, and some decidedly more eventful ones for the Aussie 7s. They provided a pretty good appraisal of the Japanese sportswear giant’s shirt design ethos – they can go conservative and conventional, or they can really come at it from outside the box.

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While the Bok shirt kept things pretty classic-looking, eyebrow-raising yellow sleeves aside, the Wallabies design has certainly caused a bit of a stir with a design that breaks sharply with a decade or so of pretty plain shirts.

While the green and gold has been a lot more gold and not a lot of green in recent years, this new shirt firmly redresses the balance, with a pretty wild shoulder motif consisting of a selection of thin green strips, with cut-out yellow Southern Cross constellation.

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After so many years of pretty much plain, such a bold design left-turn has got people pretty het up, particularly on social media, and on some level we can understand some of their concerns. We don’t love the way that the stripes peter out halfway down the sleeve – we can’t help but think people would like it a lot more if the whole shoulder was green and stripy as opposed to just a section.

That said, we’re going to fly in the face of a lot of online vitriol here and say we actually quite like the shoulder bit. It’s got something of the gladiator’s shoulder armour about it from a distance, though perhaps we’re kidding ourselves there.

Regardless, there’s a retro-ness to the shoulder that we quite like – not retro in the sense that we usually mean, the classic shirts of the 60s and 70s, but more of a throwback to some of the more out-there shirts of the 1990s. And say what you like about the 90s being a high-watermark of shirt design (or not), it wasn’t too bad a time for Australia and Rugby World Cups, was it? So maybe it’s a good omen.

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The other critique we’ve seen levelled at this new shirt relates to the colour. Over the last five years or so, the ‘gold’ in ‘green and gold’ has been in flux somewhat, varying in shades and hues, almost looking yellow at times.

Now, this is not a good thing. A team’s colours, particularly in test rugby, are sacrosanct – they have history, weight, importance. They’re intwined with the very fabric of a nation’s psyche. Messing with the gold of a Wallabies jersey is no more acceptable than making an All Blacks shirt dark grey, Wales’ a dirty pink, or England’s cream. The very idea of it grinds our gears.

But colour is a funny old thing, and lighting, particularly in a studio environment, can have a big impact on how that colour looks in photographs. For example, in our review of last year’s Australia shirt, we grumbled that the shade of gold seemed a little washed out. But in the flesh, under natural light, it looked as gold as any Wallaby shirt before it. There’s been some grumbling that the new shirt is too yellow but from the images we’ve got here, it looks pretty gold to us, but we’ll reserve judgement on the colour until we see it on the field.

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There’s no doubt that this is a polarising design for ASICS, and it’s not one that everyone’s going to appreciate. With any new shirt, you’re going to get some negative reaction, as change isn’t always palatable, but after more than five years of very, very plain Australia shirts, such a bold design decision was always going to magnify that.

While we’re perhaps not as keen on this as we are with the new Springboks shirt, in a tournament where we’ll probably see a parade of very plain, very safe designs from plenty of other teams out there, we like that this is a bit of a break from the norm.

SHIT/GOOD RATING: GOOD (IF IT’S GOLD)

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4 comments

  1. I have to say I don’t really understand the author’s criticism of “plain and safe” designs… if the jersey were being paraded at a Milan fashion show, then perhaps there’d be cause for that sort of criticism, but we’re talking about representative rugby jersey’s here, and so a great deal of tribalism and history comes into the equation. It’s for that reason that people like and respect consistency; it gives the national team a sense of continuity across the ages and helps people connect with it. By throwing a bunch of silly things on the jersey every chance you get all you do is undermine the brand of the team.

    A good study in why less is more with these sorts of things is the difference between the New South Wales Rugby Union and Rugby League jerseys. After years of cluttering up their designs, Canterbury have finally worked out that people want something anchored to history and truer to its roots, and thus have given us an elegantly simple pure sky blue Waratahs jersey.
    Canterbury are to be commended for this – after a few years where they clearly lost the plot, they’ve gone back to basics are created jerseys that are classic and modern at the same time, with their efforts for the Kangaroos, Queensland’s Origin team, and the England and Ireland Rugby teams being similarly elegant.

    Sadly, the designers at classic haven’t cotton on to this fact yet, and have spent the last couple years giving us some of the most cluttered and ugly looking Blues’ jerseys in a generation. In fact their last couple of designs have looked a lot like ASICS 2014 Wallabies jersey, being covering in side panels, featuring a weird bib like thing under the chin and other pointless clutter.

    ASICS clearly got the criticism from last year that their first jersey was too cluttered and have gone simpler this time. But some how they just didn’t quite grasp that what people want is simplicity infused with history. This shoulder panel looks like a detail ripped from one of the 90s more odorous Aussie ODI outfits, and detracts from the other details.

    With that in mind, the best jersey design of the past decade has been the BLK design of 2013. It was precisely what fans wanted – a homage to the old golden era of the 80s and 90s (before the late 90s design experiments) with a modern twist. it relegated the increasingly bogan redolent southern cross to a subtle emboss (whilst the last ASICS design had it down the side of the torso like the tattoo of some surfer nationalist from Cronulla) and kept it all gold and brought in an interesting take on the green collar we’ve missed so much. Sadly the execution of it wasn’t the best – the collar wasn’t to the standard of those in the ASICS ones, but the design was still superior.

    The other point I’d make is that there is a place to try different things for national strips, and that’s away jerseys. Sure the Wallabies don’t clash with any major country and so don’t need one generally, but then neither does England and they still manage to produce some interesting ones to mix things up a bit. We got an away jersey this year, but for some reason it’s an extraordinarily dull white version of the gold jersey, that makes the side look like it’s aping England.

    Personally, I’d be quite keen to see the Wallabies wear a dark green alternate jersey that would go back to its roots from before they were effectively forced to play in gold by the boks. Sure, it would make the Wallabies alternate jersey look a bit like the boks (or the Kangaroos perhaps), but at least it’s one of our colours, and white just makes us look like England. Either way, having annual alternative jerseys would give the kit manufacturers license to do something a little different, so why not use that for the design shake ups and keep the home jersey true to its roots like the All Blacks and Kangaroos do?

    • We take your point Daniel, and while there are a lot of people who appreciate a classic, clean and simple jersey, there are plenty of people who find that boring and a bit bland. If this wasn’t the case, teams and manufacturers wouldn’t be designing them!

      These shirts are produced so that people will like them and buy them, and if people (particularly kids) didn’t love bold, brash and busy designs, then they wouldn’t be making them! We appreciate that to many fans, particularly older ones, or ones who favour the more retro look, this seems incongruous, but shirt design and taste is a very broad church, and one man’s hideous is another man’s gorgeous!

      Agree with you about the green alternate shirt though, it would be a nice change from the white of the last two World Cups.

      • I can appreciate there is a strong commercial aspect at play and you’re right that the commercial imperative obviously is at play, but there are still kit makers that are good and bad at it, and I haven’t met too many people who put ASICS in the “good” category when it comes to design chops.

        To be honest, I’d be very interested to see just how well the ASICS jerseys sell, because I didn’t see too many people donning their effort last year at the Wallabies’ games I attended, and I suspect I won’t see too many wearing this year’s either come the RC. Sure, they need to change it up to generate sales, but change for change’s sake isn’t enough – it needs to be done well.

        Indeed, I’d wager that for all the “variety” of design offered by ASICS they haven’t managed to generate anything close to as much buzz and positive feedback as the last two England and All Black shirts, in spite of both of those having kept an identical colour scheme, with only minor changes around the cut and collars etc.

        England is a good example here – it’s worth noting that after years of putting silly red sashes and all sorts of crap in their primary jerseys, for the past 5 years they’ve just gone for solid whites and from what I’ve read each year’s version sells bloody well. Perhaps it’s time we “experiment” with a similar approach.

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