Where do you go once you’ve reached the top? That’s a question that Connacht rather struggled with answering on the field last year, as their remarkable Pro 12 title win in 2016 could only be followed up with a mid-table finish in its defence.
But it’s also a question posed to Connacht and BLK this season on the back of their stunning, Gold Award-winning home shirt of last season? Can they keep up such high standards? Well, let’s find out…
Straight off the bat, if you’re going to ask us if we think the 2017/18 Connacht home shirt is as nice as last year’s subtle tonal hooped design, the answer is an emphatic no – that was one of the nicest shirts anywhere in 2016/17, and topping it was always going to be a big ask.
That’s not to say their back to basics design for this season is bad of course, it’s just… it’s missing something to really set it apart from the crowd. We like the blend of the two shades of green, and if they’d just kept the green to the sleeves and contrast panels, we think it would have been a simple but classy design.
But we’re really not sure about the yoke around the top of the chest and shoulders – it just feels a bit tacked on, and we’re really not sure what the pattern at the top of the shoulders is supposed to be, but it really doesn’t help.
The design still hangs together nicely, of course, it’s a tidy enough jersey – but it lacks the finesse and the elegance of last year’s designs, and feels more like a throwback to the sort of thing BLK was doing when they first came out. It’s a bit of a kitchen sink design, and while that’s not always a bad thing, here we’re just not that in love with it.
If it feels like we’re being a bit harsh here, that’s only because Connacht and BLK have raised our expectations in the last few seasons – once you hit the high notes and start winning Gold Awards, we’re going to judge you by those standards in the future. This is a perfectly tidy shirt, but it’s an undeniable step down from last year’s superlative design.