USA Rugby is riding the crest of a wave right now. As well as hosting the All Blacks in Chicago last season and the Wallabies before the World Cup, the Eagles’ Sevens team pulled off a stunning tournament win in the London Sevens this year, and recently confirmed their qualification for the Rio Olympics. All that has done wonders for the profile of the sport Stateside, and there’s a prevailing feeling that the sleeping giant of US rugby might not be sleeping for much longer…
That’s the message that BLK is emphasising with the launch of the Eagles new Rugby World Cup 2015 home shirt – it’s time to wake that giant up and upset the order of things in world rugby, and that starts with this year’s tournament in England. The rapidly expanding Australian brand certainly knows a thing or two about shaking up the order of things – since they rebranded from Kooga Australia in 2013, they’ve aggressively pushed out into the rugby world, challenging the traditional powers – Canterbury, Adidas and the like – with bold designs and some headline-grabbing sponsorships.
Indeed, BLK will supply four teams at this World Cup – more than any other supplier, so we’ll be seeing plenty of them on this site over the next few weeks, but where better to start than with the USA, where they’ve certainly shaken things up, design-wise.
BLK took over the USA contract from Canterbury last season, and produced a solid, if a little unspectacular shirt on their first attempt. This new shirt takes some of the hallmarks of that design – the prominent band around the midriff, for example – but with a fair ol’ dose of patriotic brilliance thrown in there.
The red band is gone, giving the shirt a much cleaner look from a distance, but up close there’s plenty of cool stuff going on. The band this time borrows the penchant for stars that we first saw with last season’s USA Sevens shirt, but in a less wacky, altogether more classy way. The stars are evenly spaced and small, very much in the vein of the American flag – it doesn’t feel in any way tacky, quite the opposite, and does a good job of adding interest to the centre of the jerseys, which can sometimes feel a bit sparse on sponsor-free tournament jerseys.
We can’t have stars without stripes, of course, how wrong would that be? And BLK has accommodated us with our favourite part of the design – the red and white stripes that flank the stars on either side. The stars and stripes continue up the sleeves, which makes the shirt hang together really well, all told.
Of the World Cup shirts we’ve seen so far, the prevailing trend has been for very modern-looking designs. This is clearly another one, but it’s also proof that when done well, something can be modern and classic all at the same time. One of the nicest shirts of the tournament so far.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: Good