The final South Africa Super Rugby team to reveal their shirts for the 2016 season is the Cheetahs, and while they had a pretty forgettable 2015 season, but will be looking to lift themselves off the bottom of the South African conference in coach Franco Smith’s second season in charge.
The Bloemfontein franchise has seen a great deal of mixing and matching as far as the team’s colours go over the last few years. Two seasons back, the traditional white, teal and orange was given a bit of an overhaul, with the orange relegated to a tertiary design, and the teal taking more prominence.
Then last year we saw an even more radical change, with the traditional white being scrapped in favour of a predominantly orange home shirt with a turquoise away. So what revolutionary new move for 2016?
Well, it’s another big change, but one that’s much more in tune with the traditional Central Cheetahs look – a plain white jersey with small orange accents around the collar and the armpits.
It’s a very similar look to the jersey the Free State Currie Cup jersey we saw last season, and indeed, a distinct lack of the blue and purple that have been part of the Cheetahs shirts in the past, so what gives?
Well the simple answer is that the blue and purple aren’t there any more because the provincial teams that those colours represented – the Griquas and Griffons – are no longer affiliated with the franchise.
There’s no doubt that the removal of these two colours simplifies matters, as the Cheetahs have struggled to fit them all in, but we do miss them – when it was done right, the unusual combination of colours was really unique.
No more teal and purple means that the away shirt is perhaps predictably orange, and while its a simple palette-swap of the home shirt (but without contrasting under arm vents), it does allow the most striking element of the design to really stand out.
Yup, proudly displayed across the front of the shirt is the rather fetching outline of a cheetah’s head, sprinting off in the manner of the Cheetahs’ badge, and the badge of their Currie Cup equivalent.
It’s a cool looking motif – so much less on the nose and gaudy than some of the recent designs that we’ve seen on Puma’s jerseys, and you have to say it’s actually rather majestic and handsome.
The removal of the Griquas and Griffons colours from the Free State palette has definitely simplified matters for the Cheetahs this year, and has produced two rather cool and clean shirts (even if they aren’t our favourite orangey jerseys in Super Rugby this year).
They do feel slightly less unique however, and that’s a bit of a shame – there aren’t many teams in rugby pulling out teal and purple, and we’re sad to see them go!