Exeter Chiefs 2016/17 Samurai Cup/European Shirt

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Exeter’s rapid rise from the Championship to the top table of both domestic and European rugby has been remarkable, and one of the most memorable and recognisable symbols of the club’s progress has been their eye-catching European/Cup jersey. On the back of their first appearance in the Champions Cup knock-out stages last year, this year’s shirt definitely continues the theme. 

Now, let’s not beat around the bush here – anyone who’s listened to the Blood & Mud podcast in the last year or so will probably know that we have issues with the Exeter Chiefs’ use of Native American imagery in the club’s branding.

We’re not going to go and rant about cultural appropriation again, because it’s a very emotive and divisive topic, and we’re here to review shirts, not soapbox. That said, previous cup shirts have laid on the Native American imagery on pretty thick, but this year is a little different…

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Pleasingly for those of the bleeding heart liberal persuasion then, instead we have a striking multi-coloured design that was initially inspired by the Aurora Borealis.

Why is the southernmost club in the Premiership banging on about the Northern Lights? Well, as we said, while the visuals themselves are inspired by the Aurora, the thinking behind it is a nod to Native American culture…

The colours used relate to the Native American practice of aura cleansing, with the different colours used reflect different meanings; violet and pink are thought to indicate contentment and purity, blue is said to stimulate intuition and ensure calmness and indigo is claimed to be the aura of reflection of contemplation.

The combination of these three colours is designed to represent the growth of the club over the last six years, but also indicating the promise for the future.

While we find Exter’s adoption of Native American culture to be needless (if you want to be Chiefs, why not draw on local history and use the Celtic Dumnonii people as your inspiration?), we appreciate that Samurai has chosen to reflect that culture in a more thoughtful and subtle way here.

And none of that takes away from the fact that Samurai have created what is one of the most striking and out-there jerseys of the season, one that will turn heads whenever it’s worn…

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