The Barbarians are one of the oldest and most beloved institutions in all of rugby union. The world’s most famous and beloved invitational side also have one of the most famous and iconic jerseys in the sport – though things are a little bit different for 2016…
The BaBaas run-from-everywhere style of play is a glorious throwback to rugby’s bygone days, and for most of the last decade or so, the same has been said of their jerseys. Asides from a brief period with Rhino in 2013 and Adidas in 2008, for most of the last decade, the Barbarians have worn classic-looking jerseys from 90s rugby supplier extraordinaire turned middle-aged leisurewear specialists, Cotton Traders.
But times they are a-changing, and for 2016, Barbarian FC has decided to move on from CT and sign up with a more performance-focussed brand in Kooga, and their first attempt at the famous black and white hooped jersey is what you see here.
And on the surface you have to say that they’ve done a pretty good job of putting a slightly more modern spin on the classic design, without making it feel too alienated from the grand traditions of the side and it’s, ahem, more old-school approach to things like training and drinking copiously the night before a game.
So what we have here is a rather nice black and white hooped jersey, with the addition of some unconventional black pinstripes flanking each black hoop – not traditional perhaps, but still classy and retro. We also have a white grandad-style collar, and some pinstripe-flanked white side panels.
It all looks rather nice, though if we were being brutally honest, we’d perhaps make a couple of changes – the primarily white shoulder areas make the top half of the shirt look a bit too white, and while we understand that it’s not a first, we’d prefer a classic collar to the low-profile type here.
For some people, the jersey is as much a part of the mythos of the Barbarians as lager-focussed training sessions or Gareth in ’73, and so any jersey that isn’t a baggy, long-sleeved shirt with a proper collar just won’t do. But the fact of the matter is that the Barbarians have to evolve a little – modern players have never played in baggy old-fashioned shirts, and to make them do so would probably just put them off. Kooga’s struck a nice balance here, and we think it’s worthy of the BaBaas’ proud traditions.