Last season, Gloucester became the first team in the Aviva Premiership to sign up with Australian rugby league specialists, XBlades. After a fairly forgettable few years with Kooga, it was a hugely positive change, though not without complaint…
Despite XBlades returning Gloucester to the classic cherry and white hoops that are the club’s hallmark, many fans grumbled that this return to the classic look that they’d craved for so long was blighted by the intrusive sponsor box that dominated the shirt’s front…
For 2016/17, however, XBlades and Gloucester have not only listened to the concerns of the fans by creating an even more traditional-looking shirt for this season, they’ve made the unusual step of addressing the sponsor issue, too.
Rather than the intrusive sponsor box of last season, Gloucester went to main sponsor, Mitsubishi Motors, and conveyed the fans concerns, and convinced them to opt for a much less intrusive, linear logo on this year’s design.
It’s remarkable really – when you look at the back of the shirt, you see how ridiculously preoccupied sponsors are with getting their logo plastered as visibly as possible (looking at you, Olbas), so to get the club’s main brand to agree to make their logo less visible is pretty unprecedented.
As Gloucester CEO Stephen Vaughan remarked, “I can’t think of many successful brands that would listen and allow us to make this type of change but they totally buy in to what the supporters told us and are delighted with the results.”
It’s also great PR for both Mitsubishi and Gloucester of course, and makes both look like they truly care about the fans, so lets not pretend they’re doing this totally altruistically, but it’s a very welcome move that we wish more brands/clubs would consider, as it really lifts the shirt to another level.
The away shirt is a very demure affair, and once again this year, black is the chosen colour for the design. Before we get into it, it’s worth noting that sadly, XBlades hasn’t opted to follow this year’s trend and bring back everyone’s favourite, the old-fashioned collar – we only have images of the beautifully-collared supporter’s jersey, while the on-field version sports an identical collar to the home shirt, and is made out of the same holey, ventilated material.
It’s a pity that they didn’t opt to have a nice proper collar on this shirt actually, because that would at least give us something to talk about… because other than that there’s really not much to work with here.
The most striking feature on this plain black shirt is the club crest, which has been sublimated diagonally across the body in subtle, tonal style – a nice, understated motif that elevates the jersey from ‘plain black t-shirt territory’.
Other than that… well… if you can spot anything else interesting to talk about here, by all means let us know in the comments, because we’re coming up pretty damn empty!
It’s nice to see that the linear Mitsubishi logo hasn’t just been used to declutter the home shirt, and it really does ram home how much cleaner and nicer a rugby shirt looks when it just has a simple, complimentary main sponsor – we wish others would follow suit.
While the away shirt is a little underwhelming, the home shirt really is a beautiful thing – the removal of the pinstripes in the hoops to make them look even more classic, the midnight blue accents, the linear logo… it all comes together to create one of the nicest Gloucester shirts ever, and definitely their nicest in well over a decade.