San Franciso Rush PRO Rugby 2016 Champion System Home & Away Shirts

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The USA has become rugby’s white whale in recent years – the massive untapped market that the sport is just on the verge of cracking. Whether that’s true or not, rugby is on the rise in the States, as evidence by the creation of PRO Rugby – the first professional league in US history.

PRO Rugby’s inaugural season consists of five teams, each based in a different US city, and named rather plainly after said city or the state in which they’re based. The first of these teams we’re looking at is the San Francisco club.

All five PRO Rugby franchises have similar basic jersey designs, with the PRO Rugby logo on the left breast, supplier logo on the right, and the team name in block letters across the chest. It’s an interesting and unconventional way of doing things for a rugby shirt, but we don’t think it looks bad – it’s almost reminiscent of the way basketball and football jerseys often display their team name in that location, and it adds a unique US spin to things.

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The supplier logo is probably unfamiliar to you, and for good reason – Champion System is a new name to the rugby world. The company has expertise in pro cycling and triathlon, but this is their first professional rugby contract, and you have to say they’ve done a decent job with the San Francisco home jersey.

It’s hardly revolutionary, but it works. The black raglan sleeves are a nice contrast with the deep red of the body, and we really like the black-to-red fade on the side panels. The half-collar with the white strengthening tape is cool too, and makes it feel very much a rugby jersey.

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The change shirt is just as nice, with a simple palette swap working very well again, perhaps even better – indeed the colours chosen for the San Francisco team are an extremely effective combination. And that’s not a coincidence.

People have rightly been critical about the lack of a unique identity for the PRO Rugby teams so far. It’s understandable, but the truth is that creating new sports brands takes time, and there simply wasn’t enough of it to do so for all five teams in the short turnaround between the competition’s announcement and its kickoff.

Instead, PRO Rugby has opted to play the first season with this rather utilitarian vibe, with the plan being that at the end of the season, the clubs will work with their fans to create proper unique brands for each city.

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That’s not to say that these San Francisco shirts are devoid of any identity, however, as the club’s colours are a deliberate nod to two of the Bay area’s existing sporting superpowers– it’s two NFL franchises. That mix of red and gold is a clear nod to the San Francisco 49ers, while the their rivals over the bay, the Oakland Raiders, are none more black.

Champion System’s idea to link these new rugby teams to an area’s existing sporting history and identity is a smart, and may well serve to further integrate them into the local sporting landscape once the team names and branding is decided.

It’s early days for PRO Rugby, and there’s plenty of time for the league and its teams to correct any missteps they’ve made. Despite our initial misgivings however, if would appear that Champion System can certainly make a decent rugby shirt – at least in the case of San Francisco…

UPDATE: The San Francisco PRO Rugby team name has been chosen, so the team are now known as the San Francisco Rush – keep an eye out for a proper club badge and branding from next season.

Buy the San Francisco Rush shirts from Champion System at World Rugby Shop

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5 comments

  1. My biggest problem with all the
    PRO Rugby teams in the U.S.A is that not one of them uses nothing more than a place name like San Francisco above
    It is part of American Sports culture to have teams with names sutch as 49ers,
    Yankees,Steelers,,Nicks we have also seen this trend in one other sports league in North America namely M.L.S
    & I know from Facebook that the American people do not like this European style of team names so there for what Pro Rugby has did buy not giveing there teams proper North American team names will only be to the detriment of Rugby Union in the U.S.A. from what I have read on the subject I hope I am wrong time will tell.

    Also haveing no team crest or logo I can see being a problem in the future.

    • As mentioned in the review, Albert, the team names are placeholders for the first season – before next season the teams will work with fans to create proper identities, badges, team names etc

      • Seams very disorganized way to aprotch the creation of any new team sports competition to me very un American like.

        You need to get the fundamental parts of any new team sports league organized before you get the competition started seams very mutch like school not errers to me more amateur rather than pro to me just hope it works out long term for Pro Rugby in the U.S.A my understanding is in America it is seen as more a college sport founded not buy variety funding but but students them self that is something they will need to sort out if the game is to grow Stateside at grass roots level.

        I Know Yale,Harvard & Florida State have Rugby Union teams at College level.

  2. Thanks for doing a review of the ProRugby jersey. I was disappointed at the league decision to not have names, mascots, crests, etc. but happy to have the league get started. They had bigger concerns to get launched on time (venues, staff, salaries and players). I would agree with Albert, that it makes it difficult, but think he may be out of touch with rugby in the USA. It is not just a college sport and what will matter most is the quality of the play, not whether we’re cheering for San Diego or the “sharks”.

    • Was not saying Rugby Union was just a college sport in The U.S.A but pointing out Rugby Union needs more funding at College level as it is not a varsity sport to the best of my knowledge myb you know diffrent krdzine1 you need to get the grass roots right first or you will never get the number of home grown players to keep a pro league going a bit like why The World League of American football/NFL Europe and in failure the grass roots where not there in the first place.

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