Darryl Powell’s side demonstrated in 2015 that they really are a Super League force to be reckoned with. Granted the Tigers finished a place lower than in 2014, but this should still be considered a decent achievement after a number of key personnel decided there futures were away from the Jungle. One of the biggest changes came off the pitch however with the surprise decision to hand over kit supply to UK supplier X-Blades, and after a questionable first set of Cas outfits, here is what they’ve come up with for this season…
For starters, the home shirt isn’t a copy, which has to be a gigantic step forward after last year’s principal offering was an exact reproduction of Wests Tigers alternate top from 2014. The cynic in us would say that this is because the NRL outfit are now with ISC, but you would hope that Cas went to X-Blades and demanded something bespoke. A cursory glance towards football shirt design will illustrate that template nonsense is sadly rife in the round ball game, but this is rugby, the game deserves better and it seems that Cas and X-Blades have realised this.
Despite the quite justified hammering the ‘copied’ shirt got, it was actually rather nice, and notwithstanding the strange choice of orange instead of Castleford’s traditional amber hue, we did consider it one of last season’s best Super League outfits. For this campaign, many clubs have looked to the future for inspiration but not Castleford.
The first thing to note is that white has virtually disappeared from Castleford’s home palette, saved only for a smart neck insert and discreet main body trim. Now you may think that black would be given a bigger role, but no, it also fades into the background as in your face, bright, tango orange takes centre stage.
As far as the slashes across the top line of the shirt go, we’re not sure if they’re supposed to be chevron-type thing represented by tiger stripes (maybe the symmetrical lines on a tiger’s face?) or tiger claw slashes, but it’s a concept that works aesthetically, anyway.
While we often wax lyrical about how manufacturers should put a bit more effort in with the away shirt than just making it a simple palette-swap of the home design, when it’s done well, it can still look great, and is a pleasing throwback to how things used to be.
And that’s exactly what Castleford have given us with their alternate ensemble, with black as the primary colour of choice – if anything it actually looks a bit better than the home.
Why? Well, by keeping the tigery chevron orange here, it stands out a lot more than it does on the home shirt, and feels a lot more of a feature, especially when paired with the striking white accents.
A problem common with both shirts however is the club crest. The orange-on-orange design looks a bit messy and we think perhaps should have placed more centrally to make this motif a little more striking. As it is, the badge gets a bit lost on the sea of orange and would have been a focal point of the V, but rugby league shirts seem to have an aversion to crests being placed anywhere but the left breast.
While at least more original than last season’s efforts, there are still a few issues with this design, and it’s a bit cluttered in places, so we can’t quite hail it as a complete success, even if the away really hits the mark.
That said, with the eye-catching additions of Joel Monaghan and Ben Crooks, Classy Cas have a great chance of making the play-offs and improving on 2015, and that’s something they have undoubtedly already done with their kits for this season.
Review by Gareth Davies