France Rugby Adidas Rugby World Cup 2015 Home Shirt

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Meet the new shirt – same as the old shirt? Yes, when France became the final team to unveil their Rugby World Cup 2015 shirt (the likes of Canada, Georgia and Namibia have been revealed, stay tuned for reviews soon!), the response was muted to say the least. Whereas most teams have opted to create a whole new shirt for the Rugby World Cup, France has instead opted to adapt the home shirt that they’ve been using since last November.

It’s quite nice in a way – fans who bought the shirt will appreciate that they don’t have do fork out for a new one, and there’s something very old-school about simply taking the shirt you already have and sticking a RWC patch on it. In a way, it’s kinda the reverse of what Wales do – they bring out a new kit for the Rugby World Cup, then once the tournament’s over they shuffle the badges on the front and slap a main sponsor on there… et voila, you’ve got Wales’ regular kit for the next two years.

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And yet, while there’s no denying some of the benefits, there’s something a little anti-climatic about waiting all this time to release the new World Cup Kit, in fact being the very last team of the tournament to do so… and then you just slap a World Cup patch on it and send it out?! Talk about dashing our expectations.

That said, it’s not entirely accurate to state that this is an identical shirt to the one worn in this year’s Six Nations – they’re similar for sure, but there are a few small differences, and one pretty big one that are worth drawing your attention to.

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Starting with the small stuff, the striking dark blue bands on the sleeves, which were a nod to the 1995 World Cup team, remain, as does the lighter shade of blue that caused many eyebrows to be raised back in November. The new over-the-shoulder stripes have been removed, however, perhaps to make the jersey feel a bit less cluttered with the addition of the RWC patch and the moving of the Adidas logo into the centre of the jersey below the collar.

We can’t quite understand why they’ve also decided to remove the stitched ‘FFR’ initials from the base of the collar placket, however – it was a nice little detail, and there seems to be no good reason to remove it. Odd.

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The biggest and most notable difference between the new France shirt and the old, however, is centred around the FFR badge, where you’ll notice a curious, squiggly pattern that runs from just below the rooster all the way up over the shoulder.

These aren’t just mere squiggles, however – they’re the result of a collaboration between Adidas and french sculptor and artist Jean-Pierre Rives. If that name rings a bell, it’s because Rives also played for France 59 times in the 1970s and 80s, winning Grand Slams in 1977 and 1981, captaining Les Bleus a record 34 times and leading them to their first ever victory over the All Blacks. Pretty tidy.

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While Rives has focussed on his art since retiring in 1984, he’s still regarded as perhaps France’s most legendary captain, and a cult hero whose uncompromising, body-on-the-line style of play is fondly remembered. Given that the French have often been accused of lacking heart and pride in their recent fallow period, it’s entirely fitting then that a player who embodied that spirit should be involved here.

The jersey is ‘tattooed’ with a depiction of ‘Les Rubans de la Mémoire‘ – ‘The Ribbons of Memory’, some of Rives’ most notable and striking sculptures, and that’s not all, inside the collar of the shirt is a message from Rives to the French players who will don the shirt at this year’s World Cup, explaining the significance of the Ribbons to him, and why they’re featured on the shirt.

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For those who don’t speak French, the text reads, “The ribbons of memory are at the centre of our origins and the start of all hope. Each individual has a unique experience which forms part of our community and the history of these communities is the memory of a nation.”

It’s poetic stuff – of course it is, he’s French – but it definitely feels like there’s an underlying message of individual and collective responsibility that will surely resonate with the French public, in light of the criticism often levelled at the French team in the last five years.

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It feels like Rives’ attempt to remind the French players that their time in the jersey is unique and special, and that team has a chance to do something that will live on in the national memory, just like he did in the 80s.

Time will tell if the message gets through to the current French squad, but it’s a nice idea and concept nonetheless, and it definitely adds something to a shirt that might have been a little uninspiring otherwise.

Not that there was ever anything wrong with the design, we really liked it in November and we really like it now… but the World Cup is a special occasion, and surely that deserves a brand new design, too?

SHIT/GOOD RATING: Good (but we’d have preferred something new!)

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9 comments

  1. I’m like a slobbering Pavlovian dog and a new kit launch is my bell. I enjoy your posts immensely, and have been waiting for your comment on this kit for a while. My opinion on it is along the same lines as yours. Firstly, although a new kit is always the ultimate, I am pleased that they have gone against the modern trend of emptying out supporters pockets in what feels like every 6 months of kit changing. Minor detail changes on a largely unmodified kit deserves a round of applause here.

    I still can’t help but feel that a tiny bit of white is lacking from the kit, however. Maybe the Adidas logo or the thin red strips on the blue bands could have been made white? Thoughts?

    Although I liked the FFR stitching on the base of the collar, I felt the repetition unnecessary as it is already proudly represented under the cockerel only 10cm to the left. I would suggest stitching personal initials for every player or even details of the opposing team instead of the bold national flag that’s usually underneath it. I always found it strange France having another country’s flag on their jersey.

    Any ideas when the alternate kit will be released, and will it be the red again?

    Thanks for the posts!!!

  2. Its been modified more than the English and Irish Jerseys, but hey, can’t please everyone. I got one for my birthday last Sunday, and It’s beautiful, and I just love it!

    • Thats… well not at all true, Michael – the England and Ireland kits are totally new designs, new collars, neckline, grip patterns, badge position… even the materials are new!

      That said, this is still a nice shirt, as you can see from our review!

      • From a “fan” point of view, they look unchanged. Due to being down under and having limited opportunity to see and feel the shirts physically, I believe the appearance look very similar to previous jersey. I liked your review on the French RWC Jersey, and apologies if I sounded defensive of it, it’s just that no one looks at a New Jersey and say ‘nice collar’ before they mention the overall appearance.

      • Not at all Michael – just pointing out that when you put the shirts side by side, asides from the colour and the manufacturer, there’s plenty different between them! We’re all about the nerdy details here see 😉

  3. I like this kit, always have, but I frankly like the Six Nations version more. Its a very modern looking kit, so the clutter didn’t bother me. I’m also not a fan of the squiggly lines behind the crest. I may just wait and pick up a Six Nations version if the price drops. Either way I like them.

      • The version you’re looking at is the players’ version, Doug – it’s made of the same woven carbon material as the All Blacks test shirt – as far as we’re aware it isn’t available to the public, and the cut is basically skin-tight. The sleeves probably look long because they’re designed to be super snug (but not restrictive) around the arms so there’s no fabric for a tackler to grab hold of. If you check out our review of the regular shirt, you’ll see a similar thing.

        The supporters’ version is more like a normal shirt in terms of both material and cut!

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