The Christmas jumper is a trend that embraces the proud tradition of looking like a complete berk to show off your festive spirit. It should come as no surprise then, that rugby teams up and down the British Isles are getting in on the act by creating their own officially licensed versions, and the results are… well… let’s find out.
As we scoured the online stores of teams from all over the world to try and find the awful and the slightly less awful examples of rugby Christmas jumpers, we came to realise that this nonsense is a particularly British affectation – teams in France, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa seemingly want no part of it… and frankly who’s to say that they’re not entirely correct in that assertion.
Anyway, without further ado, Rugby Shirt Watch embraces the spirit of Christmas in the only way we know how – passing sarcastic judgement on rugby clothing… but clothing that’s not exactly in our comfort zone. Let’s dive in.
The British & Irish Lions
Just because the Lions only tour every four years doesn’t mean that they’re not going to get into the festive spirit – oh no. And on the surface, it’s a pretty good effort (and for reference, we’re grading on the scale of ‘good = you look like a twat, but you look like you mean it’ and ‘bad = you just look like a twat’).
However, while the snowflakes and Christmas trees and all that jazz are certainly very festive, the ‘LIONS’ emblazoned across the chest is the only thing that sets this apart from a million other awful Christmas jumpers out there – could we not have had the badges of the four unions or something? A missed opportunity if ever there was one.
Now, this is more like it. While we wouldn’t blame Gloucester Fans for wearing paper bags over their heads rather than proudly display their loyalties, given how utterly dreadful they are this season (one-man team Ross Moriarty aside, of course).
But for those fans sticking with the team even in these rough moments, they’ve at least been blessed with one of the classiest Christmas jumpers this side of Santa himself – tasteful snowflakes, a giant Glaws badge in the middle… yes please.
VERDICT: Ho YES
Look, we know we said that we wanted rugby teams to boldly state their difference from your average Christmas jumper but this is a bit on the nose isn’t it?
It’s not even a proper Christmas jumper – it’s not knitted or even pretend-knitted! It’s just a plain sweatshirt with a borderline-sarcastic slogan on the front, and frankly sarcasm is our job thank you very much.
This Ulster Christmas jumper gains bonus points for the absolutely fucking awful 3D effect on the hat and scarf – you just don’t get that level of dreadful kitsch on branded Christmas jumpers normally.
Sadly, we have to deduct points for the half-arsed nature of its rugby associations – have they literally just stitched an Ulster badge onto a normal Christmas jumper? Hmm…
VERDICT: Ho -ho-NO
Welsh Rugby Union
The WRU site proudly exclaims that this is indeed, the OFFICIAL WRU Christmas Jumper – we can only assume that it’s a highly competitive sector where copycats are myriad. We’re learning new things every day.
Sadly, even though Dan Biggar looks DELIGHTED to be wearing it (we think that’s his delighted face?), it’s another poor effort on the rugby-synergy front. Take the tiny WRU badge off Santa’s hat, and it’s just a generic Christmas jumper – you could have had dragons on this mofo guys, come on!
Now we’re bloody well talking. This is the first of what we’ll call the ‘Elf-style Christmas Jumper’ – complete with fetching neck ruff and none-more-jolly gold belt buckle, but this isn’t just another half-arsed badge-stitch affair.
Look at those sleeves! They give the effect of someone wearing a classic Tigers jersey underneath their fetching elf tunic, which is a stroke of goddamn Christmas genius. Also, we never noticed the Tigers’ colours were so damn festive!?
VERDICT: Ho YES
Say what you like about Saints – they might be one of the most genuinely unwatchable teams in all of Europe right now, but they’re fully embracing the spirit of the season with not one but TWO Christmas jumper efforts.
There’s plenty to admire here – the use of team colours, the snowflakes, the originality of the designs… to be honest we’re not sure why Luther Burrell looks so cheesed off. He ought to take a leaf out of Dan Biggar’s book. Actually, hang on… is that reindeer doing the Macarena?! Winner!
VERDICT: Ho YES
The second of our ‘Elf’ jumpers comes from the Ospreys and… bloody hell would you just look at the fucking thing? In theory this should get marks for use of team colours and logo, but in truth we’re giving this props for all the wrong reasons.
We’re not sure what possessed the Ospreys sales team to ask tighthead Dmitri Arhip to be the model for this shoot – but it’s a goddamn Christmas miracle. Because nothing says ‘Peace And Good Will’ like a six-foot, 18-stone Moldovan man staring down the camera like he’s about to put you on his naughty list.
VERDICT: Ho YES
In a year when damn near everything has gone perfectly for England both on and off the field, it’s bloody typical that they might have the best (or is that worst?) Christmas jumper of the season to go with it.
Just look at the garish awfulness of the sleeves and body – it really does look like your nan knitted it for you. And that’s before we get to the pièce de résistance – the ‘England Rugby’ legend across the chest (complete with rose, natch) and our favourite bit of all, the soon-to-be-engaged scrum that dominates the body of the jersey.
It couldn’t be any more England if it tried, and it’s also perhaps the perfect synergy of awful Christmas jumper and the sport we love. Should we applaud that? Honestly, we’ve got no bloody idea, but you have to give credit where it’s due!
VERDICT: Ho YES
So there you have it… 10 rugby Christmas jumpers, some so bad they’re good, some just bad, and all of them utterly silly. If you’re wearing one this festive season, good luck to you – just don’t tell anyone we encouraged this nonsense…