La Rochelle are having another over-achieving season in the league, but many French teams, particularly those without the riches of Toulon or Clermont, opt to sacrifice their European campaign in order to ensure their survival in the money-spinning Top 14. You couldn’t blame Stade Rochelais for doing this, but it seems like they might be taking their Challenge Cup campaign seriously this year – after all, they’ve gone to the bother of producing a bespoke Euro shirt!
We absolutely loved the Rochelle home and away shirts when we looked at them a while back – Canterbury smashed it with a pinstriped home and a stunning hooped away, and this European shirt does a rather fantastic job of combining the two into one loud, proud Challenge Cup design.
Taking the basic pinstriped design of the home shirt, the Euro jersey incorporates the bright yellow of the away shirt as the primary colour instead of black, but keeping the latter as a striking element of the design, with the pinstripes and collar providing excellent contrast, and stopping things from seeming too garish and loud. Well, actually it’s still incredibly loud, but also classy!
We try not to gripe too much about sponsors on jerseys, even when it comes to the frankly silly advertising excess of the Top 14, but it’s again pleasing to see that the front of the jersey keeps all the sponsors in plain, flat black. It’s a little thing, but it makes so much difference to the look of the jersey. Look how much more ugly the back, with its various coloured sponsors, looks compared to the monochrome front – it helps detract from the messiness that modern jerseys can often suffer from.
Who knows if Stade Rochelais will make an impact on the Challenge Cup this year – goodness knows the French teams have been guilty of treating the competition as an unwelcome distraction on many occasions – but we hope they do, because this is a shirt that deserves to be worn many times.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: Good