The inclusion of rugby sevens in the Olympic calendar was a very big deal for rugby fans the world over, but it was perhaps a bigger deal in Fiji than anywhere else. The Pacific island nation has never won a gold medal in its history, but on evidence of the last few seasons, that could well be about to change…
Fiji are of course the reigning World Rugby Sevens series champions, and their settled, experienced squad go into Rio as favourites to win the tournament. Things are also settled on the jersey front, as the Olympic team will be kitted out in BLK, just like the regular team.
BLK’s Fiji jerseys for the Rugby World Cup were hugely popular with fans for their clean and classy but distinctly Polynesian design – and the continuity of suppliers sees that theme continued with the Olympics designs.
Like that World Cup home shirt, the traditional Fijian ‘tapa’ pattern is a big feature of the design here – though it’s significantly more prominent in this instance, with the motif covering the shoulders and the top of the back.
The World Cup shirt also included a subtly sublimated Fijian breastplate motif across the chest, and again an item of traditional island ceremonial dress has been used to add some interest to the classic white jersey.
Running from the right shoulder down across the chest, we have a intricate, subtle asymmetrical shield design, modelled on traditional Fijian tribal shields. A very cool and unique feature.
The change shirt takes a similar but different approach to the World Cup away shirt. The RWC alternate design was predominantly black, while this returns to the more traditional Fijian secondary colour of ocean blue.
One thing that has been kept from the World Cup shirt is the colour fade, as the jersey graduates from white to sky blue just like the RWC design did it from white to black.
Other than that, it’s all very similar to the home shirt, with the black swapped out for an unusual but rather lovely dark blue that really works with the light blue and white well, and makes the tapa really stand out.
Interestingly, it’s worth noticing that for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent, the change design has some extra tapa around the underarms and the sleeve cuffs. Whatever the reason behind their rather random inclusion, we really like them.
The final point of interest relates to the badge – as countries are competing independently of their unions, we don’t have the famous and familiar palm tree badge of the Fiji Rugby Union, but the badge of the Fiji Olympic team, complete with those all-important five interlocking rings.
BLK has produced some rather awesome Fiji rugby shirts over the last few seasons, and these Olympic jerseys are no different. Classy, memorable and unmistakably Fijian, we wouldn’t bet against them being accessorised with some gold jewellery come the end of the games…