Japan are a fixture at the Rugby World Cup – after all, they’re one of just 12 nations who have appeared in every iteration of the tournament since the first one back in 1987. However, while their record of World Cup attendance has been impressive, and they’ve been comfortably the most successful and consistent Asian team of the last few decades, they’ve only ever won a single game in the competition, beating Zimbabwe back in 1981.
However, Japanese rugby has been on a real uptick of late – they’ve beaten both Italy and Wales (albeit a massively depleted development squad) at home in the last two years, and they’re hosting the World Cup in 2019. So, in a pool with the likes of the USA and Samoa, could they have their best World Cup in over two decades? Well, they’ve certainly got the shirt for it.
Canterbury and Japan have a long, long history – they were supplying Japan since… well… since before rugby shirts had kit suppliers on them. We’re a little vague on the specifics, but they’ve outfitted the Cherry Blossoms since at least the 1999 World Cup, which is pretty remarkable when you consider that pretty much every other test nation on earth has had at least two suppliers in that time, if not a lot more.
They know what they’re doing when it comes to Japan rugby shirts then, but when does familiarity breed a little bit of complacency? Perhaps that’s why their last World Cup shirt was a touch, well, dull…
This time around, however – none of that. Gone are the partial hooped designs of the last two World Cups, with the stripes free to run the length of the shirt in the traditional style.
We say traditional, because, well, these hoops aren’t actually traditional at all, are they? We’ve seen plenty of ‘unconventional hoops’ in rugby this year, some of them from Canterbury, but this is the first time the trend has made the jump over to the World Cup.
We love the look of these curved hoops as they move up the jersey, it’s such a simple way to take something inherently classic and make it feel modern and different. It’s a really cool way to hit the sweet spot between keeping things conventional and trying something new, most nations and suppliers don’t bother to take the risk, so we tip our hats to CCC for giving it a whirl.
One other thing that’s probably only interesting to us admittedly, but we’ll say it anyway… the collar is a bit unusual too – the outline appears to be the shape of Canterbury’s standard ‘Loop’ collar style, but the collar itself looks like a standard V-neck. Odd.
Can a beautiful, cool new shirt propel Japan to World Cup heights not seen since the days when Mark Wahlberg was a valid hip-hop artist? Well… we’ll see, but Canterbury has given them the best of starts.