We’re in the fourth year of Ireland’s tie-up with Canterbury, and it’s to the company’s credit that they’ve invariably managed to create a selection of home jerseys that have felt different while at the same time true to the classic recipe over that period.
The new home shirt is no different – it’s obviously an Ireland shirt, of course, but it feels like a bit of a change from last year’s stub-collared design in a variety of ways.
The most striking different is the sleeves, which are a darker shade of green that the classic emerald green of the body, and it’s not just the colour that makes them a bit different.
Closer inspection reveals that there’s an interesting haphazard tonal striped pattern sublimated into the sleeves, and apparently these stripes are designed to represent the highest peaks of Ireland’s four provinces – Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster.
This pattern, so it’s claimed by Canterbury, will provide a ‘visual distraction’ that theoretically will put off opposing tacklers. Now… that seems incredibly optimistic to us, but I guess we’ll see come the November!
In addition, the test version of this shirt also features a textured pattern to the Vapodri material on the body and shoulders, which we think is the stylised shamrock motif that also forms the background of the 3D injection moulded IRFU badge.
Another striking departure from Canterbury shirts of previous years is the collar. For some years now, Canterbury has been experimenting and evolving its famous ‘Loop’ collar, and between Ireland, England and the Lions last season, they demonstrated that there’s clearly a lot of room for innovation there.
This new one might be the most radical of the lot. The ‘double-layered loop’ neckline feels a lot more fitted and ergonomic that previous CCC collars, and reminds us a bit of the current Adidas collar in its function.
Paired with various other hi-tech additions, including flatlock seams, triple-needle
stitching and increased sleeve mobility, plus prominent strengthening tape around the collar itself, Canterbury claims this new shirt is its most advanced jersey yet, and will give players the fine margin advantages that are so important at test level.
For some fans, the presence of the red Vodafone logo will always be a bugbear, and we do think the shirt would look better following the training gear in having a colour-coordinated logo, but such are the realities of modern sports sponsorship.
On the whole though, this is a very cool, very classy jersey that once again balances the traditional and the innovative in a way that Canterbury always does so well.