When the new Wales home shirt for the Rugby World Cup was revealed last weekend against Ireland, it was a shirt that divided opinion, though we maintain it’s a grower. While it won’t be worn until the final World Cup warm-up game against Italy, the new alternate shirt was also released on Saturday, but how will it fare compared to the red ’n’ gold home? Let’s find out…
We think it’s pretty clear that the basic design of the new Wales shirt is pretty hard to dislike – it’s clean, classy and pretty retro from Under Armour. The bone of contention has been the inclusion of Welsh gold and oxblood – two colours that have previously never been featured on a Wales jersey design before.
The alternate shirt pairs these two colours alongside a darker shade (we’ll get to that later), but asides from a few people who thought it was all a bit too Belgium, the reaction seems to have been much more positive. And it’s not hard to see why – alternate shirts are, after all, where designers have carte blanche to try new things and be a bit different, so the inclusion of an unconventional colour doesn’t upset people nearly as much as it does with the home shirt.
Let’s not forget that Wales have worn grey, black and even canary yellow alternate shirts in recent years, so this dark, moody affair with hints of red and gold is actually probably the classiest, most understated change strip Under Armour have produced for Wales to date. We really, really like it.
So, about that colour – some people have been calling it black, some have been calling in blue – in actual fact it’s both… and neither… On closer inspection you can see it has a blueish, greyish tint to the colour, that the WRU and UA call ‘Anthracite’.
The choice of name is pretty telling, of course, as anthracite is a type of compacted coal, specifically the type that was mined from the Western part of the South Wales coal fields during the later half of the 20th century. It’s a subtle nod to a massive, important part of Welsh history, but it’s another cool one
Speaking of subtle nods, like the home shirt, the alternate shirt has three Welsh words printed on the back of the collar. Under Armour has done this for many years now, but in previous years the home and alternate shirt had different words, this time, they’re identical: ‘Hanes,Cyfrifoldeb, Dyletswydd’ – which in English means, ‘History, Responsibility, Duty’.
Good words, and it chimes in with the thinking behind the inclusion of gold that we discussed in our review of the home shirt – the precious nature of gold reflecting the precious nature of a player’s opportunity to wear the Welsh jersey and represent their country.
Wales alternate shirts haven’t really been too well-loved in recent years, but we think this one will definitely buck the trend – while it might not be conventional, the combination of anthracite, Welsh gold and oxblood here makes for a very classy shirt, indeed. One of our favourite change shirts at the tournament.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: Good