The USA have had mixed fortunes in the 15-a-side game over the last few months. They made it to the Rugby World Cup, and while they occasionally showed signs of promise and progress, they finished the pool stage winless, despite running Japan and Samoa close. But times are a-changing for US rugby. In April, PRO Rugby will become the first professional club tournament in nation’s history, and before that, we have the small matter of the Americas Rugby Championship – the newly rejigged international tournament featuring the USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.
And what would a brand new tournament be without some brand new shirts? Yes, after cutting their teeth with some eye-grabbing shirts for the World Cup, BLK has hit its stride and produced a pair of new shirts that very much fulfil the none-more-Yank brief.
Unlike the Sevens shirts we looked at last season, it’s interesting to note that the home shirt is again blue this time around (the Sevens home is white), and just like the aforementioned World Cup shirt, the American flag is very much at the forefront of the design thinking here.
Across the top of the chest, we two thick red stripes, contrasting against the blue and of course reminding us of the stripes of ‘Stars & Stripes’ fame, and throughout the design we see the red and white peppered throughout the piping and panels around the collar and under the arms.
That’s the stripes then, but where are the stars? Well, look a little closer, and you’ll notice that the pinstripes that appear to run horizontally across the front and back of the shirt aren’t really pinstripes at all – on no…
Nope, closer examination reveals these stripes to be composed entirely of stars – there’s a lot more than 50! – which fades gradually from red stars to white as we go from right to left across the blue body of the design.
The alternate shirt uses the same basic design as the home design, but it’s done in a much more subtle manner than the home. Rather than going full red, white and blue here, instead the red is relegated to a pinstripe flanking the large blue stripe across the chest.
Not to do down the patriotic goodness of the home design, but we actually prefer the cleaner charms of the home design, at least on initial impression. The way that the grey stars are more subtly sublimated into the design works a little better for us, and it makes more of a feature of the chest area with its more overt pinstriped stars.
Whether you prefer the Uncle Sam boistrousness of the home shirt or the more subtle charms of the alternate design, there’s no doubt that BLK has created two shirts here that are destinctive and very fitting for the USA, without going to the over-the-top levels of the Sevens jerseys.
With the USA looking to make their mark on the all-new Americas Rugby Championship, and give professional rugby in the country the kick-start it needs, there’ll be no mistaking the Eagles while they set about their task that’s for sure.