It’s been more than 15 years since Brive reached back to back Heineken Cup finals, winning one, and since then the club from the Limousin region have hardly had a chauffeur-driven ride. They’ve been relegated, promoted, scrapped it out at the foot of the table and flirted with the playoffs.
Things appear to be looking up for them in 2016 – after a few seasons of mid-table mediocrity, they sit in sixth place in the Top 14 at time of writing, and spot the league’s top points scorer in Gaëtan Germain.
This year’s turnaround in fortunes has coincided with a big time new kit sponsorship deal – after a few seasons wearing kits made by people we honestly have never heard of before or since, they’re now having their gear provided by German giants Adidas.
And er… well… it’s quite nice, we suppose. Adidas have a proud history of producing some truly bonkers Top 14 jerseys over the years, and while there’s nothing wrong with this design it’s well… Christ it’s a bit plain isn’t it?
In recent years, Brive shirts have generally used a fair bit of black in their home designs, but here it’s reduced to just the over-shoulder Adidas stripes and a teeny, tiny bit of piping around the collar. Does it look nice? Yeah, but it’s not exactly revolutionary is it?
The away shirt is a simple palette-swap with the home design, being just a plain black shirt with white stripes and collar piping, and again it looks rather nice – it’s classy, cool and of course, understated. Again, it’s not exactly going to set the heart racing is it?
Adidas doesn’t tend to do restrained designs, and even their shirts that seem plain on the surface have had lots more going on at closer inspection. This pair however, have no such ornamentation – it’s probably the most austere Adidas design we’ve seen since the very similar Ricoh Black Rams shirts from last season.
If there’s not much in the way of ornamentation on the design itself, Brive have taken advantage of that clean, classic approach to design by er… well… plastering the damn thing with so many sponsors it’s hard to know where to start.
Three sponsors on the front of the shirt is a bit much, but it’s become rather common in the Top 14, and here it doesn’t exactly look that bad. Round the back, however, it’s a bit of a mess. Where are the numbers supposed to go with those massive eyesores taking up the back of the shirts? It’s bloody awful.
While these shirts aren’t exactly revolutionary in their designs, they’re still clean, classy Adidas designs, and that in itself is a real step up from the bargain basement dross they’ve been wearing for the last few seasons. That’s the trade-off that many mid-level clubs have to weigh up – get a more off-the-peg design from a big brand, or get something more bespoke from a less respected marque.
Most fans would probably prefer the former, and on this evidence we can understand why.