This afternoon, Cardiff Blues launched their first new kit of the 2015/16 season, with the new European shirt being revealed ahead of its run out at the Singha Premiership 7s tournament. But this is no ordinary European jersey, it’s been created to support the care and rehabilitation of Blues and Wales centre Owen Williams, who suffered a severe spinal injury while playing in a tournament in Singapore last year.
Since his tragic accident, the #StayStrongForOws hashtag and fundraising campaign has united the rugby world, raising funds and support for the 23-year-old. The Blues had the hashtag on their jerseys last season, and if you’ve watched rugby at all in the last year, chances are you’ll have seen a player flash the ‘OW’ hand gesture, or sporting one of the unmistakeable blue and yellow #StayStrongForOws wristbands.
It’s fitting then that as Owen continues his long rehabilitation that his region have chosen to demonstrate that he’s not forgotten, and that the Blues, not to mention the entire rugby world, is pulling for him. It’s not just a mere symbolic gesture, either, as £5 from the sale of every one of the new Euro shirts will be donated to the fund to help provide for his rehabilitation and care.
And we’d wager the number of those shirts sold will be in the territory of ‘an absolute shedload’, because not only is the shirt supporting a fantastic cause, it’s absobloodylutely gorgeous. The Blues and Canterbury have some form for producing hooped designs that make us want to tear up any allegiances we have to the clubs we support and support Cardiff just to wear their shirts, and this one continues the trend in impressive style.
It’s not just a pretty face, either. The yellow and blue colours have been part of the #StayStrongForOws campaign since the start, a combination of the blue of Cardiff and the yellow of Williams’s home-town club, Aberdare RFC, where he played at minis and juniors levels, until he was spotted by Blues scouts as a teen.
Aberdare RFC have been passionate and committed in their support of Owen and the fundraising and awareness campaign, and so its very fitting that this new shirt is inspired by them also. Again, it’s a fusion of the Blues and Aberdare, as the traditional black and yellow hoops of the Cynon Valley club have been tweaked with dark blue providing the contrast.
As Wales captain and Blues flanker Sam Warburton said at the shirt’s launch, “We wear the same colours, carry the same message – we stand together for Owen.” Spot on.
When we’ve review charity shirts, we make a point of not giving them the traditional SHIT/GOOD RATING, as frankly that feels like a dick move – it hardly matters if a shirt is the most aesthetically beautiful design ever if it’s raising money and awareness for a good cause.
With this shirt, we’ve got no such issues – not only is this supporting a fantastic, worthwhile cause, it’s also one of the most eye-catching and most gorgeous shirt designs of the seasons. In fact, it might be our favourite. If you support the Blues, why haven’t you bought one already?
We wish Owen the very best in his recovery, and applaud and admire the courage he’s shown in the months since his injury, and we’re really glad that every one of these shirts sold will help him along what will be a long road. So, even if you don’t support the Blues, buy one anyway – not only will you be doing your good deed for the day, you’ll get a stunningly nice rugby shirt out of it, too.