The 14/15 season was a season of missed opportunity for Northampton, and a disappointing one by their own very high standards. The 13/14 champions topped the Premiership table at the end of the season, but lost at home to Saracens in the playoff semi-finals, and while they made it to the quarterfinals of the inaugural Champions Cup they were demolished by eventual runners up Clermont out in France. The Saints will be looking to right some wrongs in this World Cup-affected season, then, and they’ll be doing so wearing all-new home and away shirts.
Well, we say all-new – clearly that’s not the case with the home! Yes, the Saints have opted to stick with last year’s hooptastic design, but tweaking it slightly. Last year’s ‘New Zealand-style’ stub collar with placket has been replaced by a rather high round-necked affair. Some might think that it looks a bit too football-y but we think it looks pretty good, and certainly a lot more contemporary than the open-collar design.
Other than that, it’s as you were for the home design, and that’s no bad thing at all. The multi-coloured hoops were one of our favourite shirts of last year, and we’re certainly not complaining about having a second year to appreciate them.
There is one slight tweak on the front of the jersey however – the removal of the collar moves the Burrda logo up to below the neck, as opposed to being in the centre of the chest last year – we think this looks much better, and declutters the front of the jersey somewhat.
While the home shirt is a simple tweak, the away is an all-new affair, and it’s a pretty bold design, too. Grey has become an increasingly popular choice for alternate shirts over the the last few seasons, but the shade that Saints have chosen here is definitely more of a bluey shade than what we’ve seen before. It’s nice though, and a significant improvement on the last grey away shirt Burrda attempted – the wretched heather, t-shirt-style Toulon away shirt from last season. Ech.
The most striking design element on this shirt is of course the club crest, which has been sublimated, in full, onto the body of the jersey. It doesn’t look bad, but we don’t think it’s exactly amazing either. If it had been sublimated in a lighter shade of grey, so it was less obvious, or done in a slightly more abstract way, perhaps removing the scroll with the club name on it and leaving just the figures of the badge itself. we’d like it a lot more. It doesn’t offend us though, and nobody will be in any doubt about what team they’re playing in it!
The accents on the jersey are provided by sky blue on the collar and sleeve cuffs. It’s the first time Saints have used light blue in a kit since they used it as the primary colour on the 2012/13 away shirt, and we like the inclusion of it here. We’re not sure the colours look that great together, but used in small doses, it works.
Small amounts might be the key here, but unfortunately, small amounts aren’t what Saints fans will be getting when they see their team run out onto the field this season. Look… we know the title of this website is Rugby SHIRT Watch, and we try to consider all jerseys on their own merits, not in conjunction with the rest of the kit… however, there’s no getting away from the fact that the new Saints away shirt is let down by the shorts:
Yup, those things are as blue as you like, and while they’re perfectly inoffensive on their own, just like the home shirt, when you stick them together, you get something that is just plain ugly. If the shorts were grey also, with the same blue accents, we’d be doffing our caps, but the excess of blue here just looks rubbish in our opinion.
Still, unless you’re a full-kit wanker, the average fan doesn’t need to worry about that, and thankfully the shirt on its own is rather nice.
So, two new shirts, one a lot more new than the other, but both nice in their own ways. The tweaks to the home shirt have done nothing to dampen our enthusiasm for it here, and while we take issue with the kit as a whole, the away shirt is pretty nice as well, and certainly a little bit different. Saints fans will be hoping that these good shirts create some equally good memories, no doubt…
SHIT/GOOD RATING: Good