After winning their inaugural Super Rugby title in 2014, the Waratahs couldn’t quite pull off back to back victories last season – they finished second in the overall standings and made it through to the semi-finals, but fell to the eventual champions the Highlanders. With a 2016 squad once again packed with Wallaby World Cup heroes, the Tahs will be hoping to get back on top this year however, and they’ll be doing it in a pair of brand new shirts.
The home shirt the Waratahs have worn for the last two seasons was an exercise in classy simplicity – a plain sky-blue shirt with just the most subtle sublimated waratah flower motif across the chest to break the simplicity. This year’s shirt is a very different proposition however…
Instead of the plain sky blue of recent seasons, 2016 sees the return of the Waratahs secondary dark blue colour in a big way. Canterbury’s current design fad is to contrast the sleeves and 360° Loop neckline in a different colour to the rest of the design, and that’s unsurprisingly what we get here.
We’ve seen this feature a lot this season, and while it’s sometimes worked really well, or blended in nicely with the rest of the design, sometimes it’s looked a little, well… shit… and a bit too much like a training shirt. Thankfully, this is very much a positive example of the trend – the sleeves and neckline contrast really nicely with the body of the shirt, and it nicely avoids the ‘training shirt’ vibe that the contrast on these shirts can sometimes give off.
We’re not quite so sure about the pattern that fades up from the bottom of the shirt. Not because it looks bad – it’s totally fine – but more because of the totally nonsense explanation behind its inclusion. So says the launch spiel: “the jersey features an armour-like fading diamond pattern from hem to chest, alluding to the symbolism of stealth and having a strong base.” Um… WHAT?!
Uncut, pharmaceutical quality PR nonsense aside however, it’s a cool-looking shirt – very different to the ultra plain designs that NSW have used in the last few years, but still clean, classy and very Waratahs.
After a bit of an unusual left-turn in the alternate jersey stakes last season, we’re back with a predominantly white design this year, and while it’s just a body colour swap with the home shirt in every way, the colour change does give more prominence to some of the design subtleties here, making it feel a little different at least.
For starters, the aforementioned ‘armour-like fading diamond pattern’ (armour-like? Seriously? Who are you, the Crusaders?) is a lot more overt against the white, and the same can be said from the subtly sublimated Waratahs badge pattern across the chest – it’s a holdover from last season’s home shirt, and is actually also present on this year’s primary design, too, but it’s extremely hard to see against the blue.
You’ll notice that instead of a main sponsor, the shirts pictured here instead have a celebratory motif adorning the chest. In similar vein to the back of the 2014 change shirt, we have an outline of New South Wales, with the legend ‘Playing for NSW since 1874’. The date in question commemorates 5 June 1874, when the very first Southern Rugby Union was established. It was renamed the NSW Rugby Union in 1882.
It’s a nice touch, but it’s one that you won’t be seeing when the Tahs take the field in 2016. No, while the supporters shirts will all feature this commemorative motif, the on-field jerseys will still sport a commercial (and slightly ugly) main sponsor, and no replicas of the on-field shirts will be produced. While the lack of a 100 per cent authentic on-field replica will definitely annoy some collectors, we think the on-field sponsor feels a bit less part of the design, particularly on the home jersey.
After a few seasons of keeping things very clean and understated on the shirt front, it’s nice to see the Waratahs trying something a little more modern and unconventional – it won’t be for everyone, admittedly, but we’re glad to see the return of the dark blue to what are a pair of very cool, classy designs.