A few months ago, it seemed like we’d never get the chance to review another Racing 92 jersey. Their planned merger with Stade Francais would have robbed the rugby world of not one but two of France’s most iconic club jerseys, but its collapse gives us another chance to appreciate one of the most crowd pleasing shirts in Europe, let’s dive in.
It’s Racing’s second season with reborn French sporting institution, Le Coq Sportif, and while the brand set tongues wagging when they signed up the Top 14 champions last year, LCS winning the France national team contract last month has got everyone’s attention.
So in different ways, these jerseys are significant for both sides of the partnership. Le Coq Sportif want to show they have the design and technical nous to follow the biggest name in the game, Adidas.
Meanwhile, Racing want to demonstrate to their fans and others that they are still the same club they were before the mess that nearly imploded two of France’s biggest sporting names kicked off.
And you have to say that, starting with the home shirt, things have been pretty conclusively nailed from both sides. We know what we want – classic sky blue and white hoops and a retro look, and that’s just what we’ve got.
It’s very much an evolution of last year’s design – the hoops are a little thicker, and some (but annoyingly not all) of the white sponsor boxes have been removed, giving us a much cleaner, less fussy design overall.
The big change from last year is the collar – where we had an unusual pinned down fold-over classic collar last time, we have a more modern-looking round-neck design with a prominent V at the front.
Echoing something that they started last year, the collar’s tricolore colour palette has been expanded to take up the whole thing – think they might be making a point? It’s a cool look though, and all adds up to yet another stunningly lovely Racing home design.
Last year’s Racing 92 away shirt polarised opinions a little bit – some people loved the light heathered grey t-shirt effect that had been sublimated… others thought it just looked a bit tacky.
Well, hopefully this year’s design will tone it down enough to please everyone – the heathering effect is still there of course, but this time it’s a lot more subtle on a very fashionable looking black design.
Unlike boring old white, this year’s jersey has been sumptuously accented with Racing’s classic sky blue, and you have to say that the whole thing is pretty darn lovely.
Infuriatingly, the sponsor boxes have been abandoned in their entirety this time around, which I think we can all agree makes them look better than they do on the home – why couldn’t they done that there too?
Round the back of the jersey we also have another lovely retro touch in the shape of two blue bands that run around the centre of the jersey. The white/blue/white band around the midriff has been a feature on Racing change jerseys for some time, but this is a nice clean take on it.
All in all, it’s a hell of a nice jersey, and we much prefer the heathered black to the grey, especially in concert with the blue accents.
If home and away jerseys both see evolutions of previous designs, the third shirt comes from a very different place entirely – even if the basic design is exactly the same as the away shirt.
We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a rugby shirt that’s pewter-coloured before – it’s not exactly a common sports jersey choice, but on this evidence, we’ve all been missing out, big style.
In a world where we see shirts of blacks and whites and blues and reds by the dozen, there’s something really refreshing about a little-used colour, especially one that goes with the the same light blue accents even better than the away shirt’s black did.
Another point that all these shirts have in common is the tricolour piping that runs down either side of the jersey at the rear – it has something of the cycling vest about it, but in a good way.
We feel rather embarrassed handing out a Gold Award so early into the 2017/18 season, but honestly, we could give the big one to any of the shirts here. By tidying up the sponsors, giving us a more mainstream collar and adding some really cool colours and designs into the mix, Le Coq Sportif has once again made Racing the best looking team in France.