It’s quite unconventional for a Northern Hemisphere team to release a brand new playing kit after the RBS Six Nations Championship and before the June tours, but thanks to some sponsorship changes at the IRFU, we get to see Canterbury’s 2016/17 Ireland effort earlier than we’d expected – and there’s plenty to see here…
First up, about that sponsor – in swapping one mobile phone provider for another, the IRFU has allowed the rather jarring presence of a splash of red on the front of the famous green jersey, and it’s not gone down too well.
We’d say that jersey sponsors are one of the unavoidable realities of modern test rugby, and while we’d prefer that Vodafone follow the lead of previous sponsor, 3, and gone for a monochrome look, it’s not the end of the world, even if the company has previous for doing so back in its Man United days. At least the red might please the Munster fans…
Anyway, back to more important matters – the shirt! And we have to say, it’s one of the more interesting international jerseys that Canterbury has produced in the last few years, with loads of things to talk about…
The most striking feature has to be that collar. We’ve seen a wide array of different interpretations on Canterbury’s trademark Loop collar design in the last few years, but this is at the same time both the most traditional and the most unconventional.
The placket is about as old-school as you can get – echoing the classic one-piece Loop design that has been used on Canterbury shirts since 1949. Indeed, it’s very similar to the Loop design used on the Lions 1959 jersey – those who enjoy speculating about what the much anticipated 2017 Lions shirt might look like might want to keep this on file… ahem.
What’s very much not traditional, however, is the collar itself – Canterbury has produced very few high collared designs in the last few years as it is, but this stub-style collar is totally outside the norm. It’s actually not too dissimilar to the current Adidas collar, but of course, blended with Canterbury’s classic Loop design.
It’s not all about the collar, however – there’s plenty of other little details that reward the rugby shirt nerd’s close eye, as is often the case with Canterbury designs. For starters, the much-loved 3D injection-moulded IRFU badge has made a welcome return after first appearing on the World Cup shirt – though you’ll notice that the test jersey badge sees a welcome return of the ‘isometric shamrock’ pattern that we saw on the 2014/15 shirt. Nice
In what’s an otherwise very retro design, the presence of a thin day-glo green strip on either side of the collar, and mirrored on the back of the shirt, is a bit of a surprise. We’re not sure what the significance of it is, but it looks quite cool, and puts a bit of a modern spin on things.
Other new features are a lot more subtle, the most noticeable of which is on the sleeves – you’ll notice some paneling and stitching in this area, which Canterbury calls ‘targeted bicep and sleeve articulation’. We’ll level with you, no idea what that means, or indeed what it does, but we assume it’s designed to make your guns look better – who can argue with that?
So, this new Ireland shirt might be a rather unexpected new addition to the test rugby shirt arena, but it’s a very welcome one, too. In addition to striking a nice balance between retro and modern, as so many CCC designs do, it also adds several interesting new design features to the Canterbury recipe that set things up very nicely for the future – very cool.