While the World Cup might be bringing in all the rugby shirt headlines at the moment, the world of club rugby doesn’t stop just because there’s a global showpiece event going on, oh no. Clubs and provinces are bringing out new shirts, too, and they don’t come much bigger than Munster, who’ve released two new shirts for the upcoming season.
Munster work on a two-year home shirt cycle, and we have to say the design they’ve been wearing for the last two seasons has been one to forget. It was looking badly dated for a while now, so an overhaul is more than needed, and this is certainly a step in the right direction.
The most striking first impression of this design is the lack of blue in the design – last season’s had blue in spades, and it wasn’t exactly executed in the most successful way. This bears more resemblance to the drop dead gorgeous European shirt from last year, but with a deeper shade of red. It’s a bit moodier, and allows the lighter red of the over-the-shoulder stripes to really pop.
Look closer, however, and there’s a lot more going on than just a plain red shirt, or even the subtle hoops of the Euro shirt… no this is something else entirely.
In a style vaguely reminiscent of this year’s Highlanders shirt, embedded into the body of the jersey front is a curious hatched pattern with a Celtic twist. Yup, in what’s becoming a surprising trend for shirts recently, the pattern is actually a tartan, namely a Munster provincial tartan that ‘conceptualises the close link between Munster Rugby and the six counties of Munster: Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford’.
While we don’t mind the tartan effect on the home shirt, the away shirt is another matter entirely… and it’s a case of a real missed opportunity. The basic design is pretty nice, certainly more restrained than last season’s lime green affair – if it were plain black with grey stripes and the day-glo orange badges and sponsors… well it could be really nice.
Sadly however, we have to come back to the tartan… and not only is it MUCH more visible on the alternate design thanks to it being grey as opposed to a different shade of red on the home shirt, it’s also at a really ugly jaunty angle.
It reminds us of something… and that’s not a good thing. The combination of the pattern, the colours, the angle… it looks like a Sports Direct own-brand t-shirt from about 2003, and that, friends, is not the sort of association you want to be making.
The home shirt, despite the polarising tartan thing, is a real improvement on last year’s effort we think – it just feels more coherent and cool than the previous clunky, slightly ham-fisted job.
The alternate shirt… well… we can’t help but think Munster has been designing its change strips with kids who hang around bus stops drinking cider in mind. It could have been a pretty cool design, but just like last year, they’ve gone for some weird, tacky pattern that has taken the shine off things. This year however, it’s really ruined it.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: 50/50