The 2015 season was a brand new start for the Melbourne Rebels after a pretty forgettable first four years in Super Rugby. For a team that had previously never finished higher than 12th in the overall standings and had been rock bottom of the table in 2014, their 10th place finish last year was a pretty substantial achievement.
Their turnaround on the field also coincided with a new look for the franchise, too – after four years of pretty ordinary dark blue, the Rebels changed to a distinctive, super-cool white, grey, blue and red hooped affair – coincidence? Well, we’d say not…
For 2016 then, there’s clearly been an ‘if it ain’t broke…’ mentality, because the changes implemented for the new season are er, well, minor to say the least…
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this shirt was identical to last year’s design – it’s the same hooped design, the same supplier of course, and the same BLK template.
There are a couple of small changes however – most notably, the main sponsor has disappeared from the front of the jersey. We’re not sure if it’s going to be replaced by another new main sponsor come the start of the season, but for the time being, it does allow the distinctive five-star motif to have more prominence, though.
The only other differences between this year’s shirt and last year’s are so minor and subtle, only the most massive jersey nerds among you (hello!) will spot it – the collar, white with red trim last season, is now solid red, while the hatching pattern that somewhat cluttered the sleeves of last year’s design has been replaced with a much cleaner red-to-blue fade.
We actually suggested that the latter would clean up a slightly too busy area of the shirt in last year’s review, and it definitely does look better – we’re not going to assume the change had anything to do with our critique though!
If the home jersey is a serious case of deja vu, the alternate is… well, it’s pretty god damn familiar, but the difference between this year and last is at least a bit more substantial than the home.
Like last year we have a dark blue design with red piping (what was previously the home colours), but the large hoops that were previously solid shades of blue are now much more noticeable, thanks to the light-to-dark blue fade. It looks really cool, and is much more distinctive.
So 2016 is definitely going to be more of a case of evolution than revolution for the Rebels, with two new shirts that are very, very close to what the men from Melbourne were wearing last year.
In truth though, that’s probably not a bad idea – another year of basically the same look means that fans have another season to properly acclimatise to the new look. We certainly hope they do, as it’s one of the nicest in Super Rugby, and one we hope they kick on with again next season.