Canada are one of those fun pub quiz answer teams who have appeared in ever Rugby World Cup since the tournament started in 1987, and while the glory days of the early-to-mid 90s might feel a long time ago, they enjoyed a respectable World Cup in 2011, leaving with a win and a draw for their efforts, their best return in 20 years.
In addition to Canada’s proud history of World Cup participation, they also have a pretty chequered history of World Cup shirts, too. For the last two years they’ve been supplied by US giant Under Armour, however, so there’s no chance of multi-coloured maple leaves making an unwelcome appearance.
When we ran the rule over last season’s inaugural Canada effort from UA, we were pretty underwhelmed and a little grouchy at the incredibly close similarity to the Wales shirt of the time. It wasn’t Canada’s fault, really, and it was still a nice shirt, but we were getting bored of seeing cookie cutter shirts coming from the Maryland brand’s rugby division, and that was pretty much the last straw.
So what of this year? Well, there’s no doubt that once again, there’s a definite similarity to the current Wales shirt in terms of the basic template – that’s pretty much a given with most makers at this World Cup – but it definitely doesn’t feel like as much of a clone as the last one.
It’s a clean, simple shirt, with the white V-shaped (but not actually V-necked) collar and sleeve cuffs giving the shirt a pretty retro vibe. It was a comparison that we drew with the Wales shirt, but we think this has even more of the 1970s football shirt feel to it, and that’s no bad thing at all.
Under Armour has been at the forefront of doing interesting things with the now standard grip material on the front of their jersey. They started out with dragon scales on the Wales shirts back in 2013, and we’ve even seen some branded grip tape from UA recently, but the old Canada shirts had boring, nondescript circles.
But no longer! Yes, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the front of the jersey is resplendent with dozens of tiny, sticky maple leaves – how very appropriate. They might be our favourite grip-panel gimmick yet.
There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about this shirt, but it’s a clean, classy design that this time around feels suitably different to the Wales design – always a tricky one when they both play in red to be honest. With some retro details and a cool little grip tape design, it’s hard not to like what UA has done here.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: Good