The Ospreys have, to put it mildly, a fairly underwhelming history in European competition. Despite being the most successful team in Wales since the dawn of the regional era, they’ve struggled to translate their domestic success onto European rugby’s biggest stage. While the Galacticos era may be over at the Liberty, the region still has European ambitions however, and they’ll be competing in the Champions Cup this season wearing a brand new European jersey from BLK.
When BLK took over the Ospreys contract last season, the region got a Euro shirt for the first time, and while their struggles may have seen it make a depressingly small number of outings, it was comfortably one of the nicest shirts in the region’s 11-year history. At the time, we said it was the nicest Ospreys shirt ever, and while this season’s home shirt might have given it a run for its money, it was still a thing of rare beauty.
The 2015/16 version is a step away from the vaguely retro subtle hoops of last season’s design, and is much more in line with the bold, overtly modern designs we’ve come to expect from BLK, and also fits in more with the general theme of this season’s primary designs.
Like this season’s away shirt the Ospreys ‘mask’ logo is the prominent design motif here, but rather than dozens of tiny lil’ masks, instead we have a single large motif at a jaunty angle across the front of the design, made up of faded yellow pinstripes. It’s a bold look, obviously, but one that doesn’t go too far overboard, and we think it looks pretty cool.
It’s nicely contrasted by neon yellow around the collar, sleeve cuffs and the rear hem of the jersey, in the same style bright pink was used so strikingly in the home shirt this season. Further colour comes from a yellow fade at the front of the design that echoes the faded panel on the back of the neck of the home shirt, and it’s interesting to note that the same panel here is solid yellow.
While we might not love this shirt quite as much as last year’s hoopy design (we have a thing for hoops, okay? It’s a problem) or the stunning regular home shirt, this is still a very cool design. It’s bold and modern, and feels suitably different to the home shirt to make it a worthwhile endeavour. It’s also good to see the region’s crest being given such prominence – when you think of the furore the region caused when it dumped the old Maltese Cross-incorporating design, it’s good to see that the experiment to create an identity for the region free from the old club politics and loyalties has been a success.
Given that Bordeaux and Exeter both play in dark colours at home, and given the Ospreys frankly dismal start to the season, there’s a very real chance that this shirt might only be worn four times before the death of the region’s European ambitions consigns it to the scrap heap.
We hope we’re wrong, however, as this shirt deserves better than that. Even if the Ospreys don’t go well in Europe, we’d like to see it used for the British & Irish Cup at least – good designs deserve to be shown off, and we hope the Ospreys have lots of opportunity to flaunt BLK’s wares.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: Good