Leicester Tigers have signed up with Kooga this season after a broadly successful few years with Canterbury, and when they released the new home kit for this season a few weeks back we were, well… let’s politely say we were underwhelmed. If they fluffed their lines with the home shirt so badly, what horrors would await us with the away shirt?
Well, uh, apparently no horror at all, because it’s hard to think the design here is anything but gorgeous. It’s the exact opposite of the home shirt, in that every bold design decision made here has not only come off, but the whole thing hangs together beautifully – it’s one of the nicer shirts we’ve seen in the Premiership so far this season.
In essence, we’ve got the same basic pattern as the home shirt here, with large hoops contrasted with subtle pinstriping between them, and solid colours on the sleeves and shoulders… but as with so many shirts, colour is key. With the home shirt, the decision to basically use white as the primary colour instead of green was as baffling as it was incredibly off-putting.
Here, black is used, combined with grey hoops, and while there are plenty who bemoan the trend for grey alternate shirts in rugby, we can’t help but feel that this is one of the more successful designs we’ve seen. The combination looks grown up and classy, whereas the home shirt looked like it had been designed by a five-year-old with nothing at his disposal but Tipp-Ex and a green marker pen.
The magic bullet that really sets this shirt off, however, are the pinstripes. Again, it’s an unabashedly modern choice to use light grey and alight, almost day-glo green, but it works so well. Rather than using the normal Tigers shade here, which might have rendered the shirt too dark, the pinstripes really lift the design, giving it a dynamism and eye-grabbing nature that it would have lacked without it.
While it might not be the most traditional shirts, it is worth remembering that the Tigers have some history with grey and black – they used that option for the tiger-striped Canterbury European shirt back in 2012 and 13.
It’s also worth noting that there’s none of the hideous colour fade on the hoops that further tipped the home shirt into the realms of complete and utter mess – by keeping the hoops solid, they’ve made the whole thing look a lot cleaner and much more classy overall.
After what was a pretty disastrous first outing with the home shirt, it’s heartening to see that Kooga have really pulled things back with this European shirt. It’s still unabashedly modern and contemporary, but it’s done in a restrained, classy and very memorable kind of way.
This is what a great modern rugby shirt design should be – it draws on elements of the past, and classic rugby shirt design, while mixing it with colours that feel inescapably modern. We think many Tigers fans will not have to think hard when it comes to deciding which shirt to buy this season.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: Good