It’s a sad fact of life that, no matter how voluminous your rugby shirt collection, you can’t actually wear replica rugby shirts in all situations. But just because you can’t wear this season’s home shirt all the time doesn’t mean you can’t reflect your love of rugby in the clothes you wear. And that brings us to a brand new section of the site, Stash ’N’ Grab – a place where we’ll run the rule over the latest off-field rugby gear, so you can flaunt your passion for the oval ball game, while still ensuring that your friends/spouse/pet will still want to be seen with you. We’re starting off with something a little outside the norm for us – Superdry’s new Rugby range…
If you’ve walked down the street at all in the last five years you’ll be familiar with Superdry. The UK company’s mix of vintage Americana style with Japanese culture has been pretty much standard issue for men between the ages of 16 and 40, and in the last year they’ve looked to further press that advantage by moving into an altogether surprising direction: rugby.
First up, no, Superdry isn’t likely to start making replica shirts fit for the professional arena any time soon – that’s really not the point. Instead, they’re looking to scratch an itch that 99% of rugby fans have, one that’s rarely sated by modern on-field garments – the proper rugby shirt.
Look, we LOVE modern rugby shirts – they look great, they’re hard-wearing, they’re really hard to ruin and they make your guns look great. Lovely. And yet… who among us doesn’t look at Gareth Edwards or Willie John McBride in their pomp and long for something a bit more old fashioned? Cotton shirts, long sleeves, proper collars… there’s a part of every rugby fan that still pines for those days, and thankfully, Superdry has you covered.
Now, of course, you can buy old-fashioned rugby shirts from loads of places, hell, many official kit suppliers to pro teams will make their own ‘classic’ jersey that has similar a similar design to the real on-field thing but made of cotton with a proper collar. And that’s fine, but while those replicas are cool, they do often lack a little bit of style, and you have to say, that’s where these Superdry World Legends shirts excell.
Basically, this is a rugby shirt that you can walk downstairs in, and your significant other won’t tell you to turn around and go and get changed. Imagine that? Instead what you’re wearing is a stylish, retro-informed design that evokes all the right notes of rugby’s 70s golden period, but with striking blocks of colour – stripes, bands and the like – that never would have been countenanced in the olden days. We wish they had, mind, as these are some of the coolest looking retro-styled rugby shirts we’ve seen.
While Superdry aren’t a ‘rugby brand’ per se, they’ve clearly done their homework, and the rugby fan will find lots of important touches here that bring back fond memories of rugby shirts of yore – from the slight stiffness of the mandatory fold-down collar, to the jock tag on the bottom right of the jersey, boxed numbers on the back and even the printed strengthening tape around the inside of the collar. Whoever designed these shirts did so with great affection for the old-school rugby shirt, and it shows.
While some of the shirts in the Superdry Rugby range come from the ‘looks cool’ school of fantasy designs, the new 2015 World Legends shirts definitely tip a nod to specific test teams in colour scheme, and while they don’t overtly indicate any international affiliation, a closer look will reveal some clever little details that show you it’s no accident. Inside the collar placket of the World Legends you’ll find the flag of the nation whose style they’re channeling, and the Valiant range shirts go even further – check out the ‘Wales’ shirt below and clock the dragon on the badge and on the back side of the collar. Both clever and cool.
Getting hands on with the shirts, your instant impression is one of quality – as you’d bloody well expect for a £75 rugby shirt! The shirts feel thick, warm and substantial – so much so that you’d definitely want to think twice about wearing it on a warm day, but if you live in the UK, those days are long over, so don’t worry about it!
The stitching around the seams, collar, cuffs and the like all feel very sturdy, while a closer inspection really reveals the attention to detail here. Superdry’s stock in trade is vaguely vintage-y vibed clothing, but these really do feel old, in a good way. The screen printed numbers have been distressed to the point where the paint has cracked, while the collar looks similarly creased and weathered. Indeed, the fabric itself feels worn-in – like a shirt that you’ve been wearing for 20-odd years.
Whether these shirts appeal to you will depend on whether an artificially aged retro-style rugby shirt is something you’d want in your wardrobe, and whether you can justify spending £75 on one. For us though, it’s a total no-brainer – these are some of the coolest unofficial shirts we’ve seen in ages, with a style and vibe all of their own, and a vintage feel that’s as comfortable as it is good looking. With Gloucester already having got on board getting Superdry to create official retro jerseys for the club, we can only hope that more teams follow suit soon.
The 2015 Superdry Rugby shirts are priced at £74.99 each and are available now from Superdry.com