After what can rightly be regarded as one of the most disappointing seasons in Springbok history in 2016, South Africa have revealed a brand new home shirt with which they’ll be hoping to restore pride during this year’s international season.
Once again the new jerseys have been produced by ASICS, who have supplied the SARU since 2014, and it represents the first brand new design since the previous jersey debuted for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The most striking feature of that home jersey – the bold yellow hoops around the sleeves – have been abandoned for 2017, and what we’re left with is one of the most classic and traditional-looking Springbok jerseys in many years.
Key to this is the collar – abandoning the round-neck design of the last two years, ASICS has opted to give the Boks the most classic collar imaginable. Yup, it’s our old friend the fold-over button-up collar, and unlike many similar retro-inspired designs we’ve seen in the last few years, it actually features a proper button, so players and fans can have it done up all the way if they want to feel fashionable.
It’s not a totally old-school collar, however. It’s still notably low profile – as the classic big 1970s collars would represent far too graspable a target for opposition tacklers – but this only adds to the vaguely 1960s button-down shirt vibe, which is no bad thing at all, and makes it feel very stylish.
The nods to modernity don’t end there, either. The test jerseys continue ASICS’ practice of using rubberised 3D logos. We think these things look so very cool – it’s a shame other brands have moved away from this, and the South Africa are lucky to still have them. The rubberised Springbok, in particular, looks seriously cool.
Closer inspection of the jersey material reveals that it’s not as clean and old-fashioned as might initially appear, too – sublimated into the entirety of the jersey are loads of tiny ‘mini Springboks’. It’s an interesting and unusual look, but one we think works really well and lifts this shirt from being a slavish retro replica.
At time of writing, the Springbok jerseys are missing a main shirt sponsor – last season the SARU announced plans to sell the shirt real estate on a series-by-series basis, but we understand that news of a permanent, more traditional main sponsor is imminent. It’s not known if the replica jerseys will be amended to reflect this, but hopefully they keep the longstanding practice of requiring sponsors to use complimentary yellow versions of their logos – it makes sponsor logos look 100 per cent better when they do.
ASICS has done a pretty good job with the Springbok jersey in the last three years, but we think this new design stands head and shoulders above the others – with its blend of classic and modern stylings and a clean, stylish vibe, this is the coolest Bok jersey in years, and a worthy Gold Award recipient.