The Vodacom Bulls are marking the 80th anniversary of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union by making their 2018 Super Rugby jerseys special commemorative jerseys, once again made by longtime supplier Puma.
The home and away jerseys share the same basic template, but other than that they’re very different. The dominant theme of the jerseys is a large motif that runs across the front of the chest. At first glance, you might think it says 2018… we certainly did. But it actually says ‘20180’ – que?
Yeah, for some reason they’ve decided to smash ’80’ and ‘2018’ together in a way that makes very little sense to the causal observer, and make it the most prominent feature of the jersey. Given how tastefully the 80th anniversary badge has done, you have to say it’s a very iffy bit of branding.
Speaking of very iffy… the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that the front of the jersey might be the classic Bulls blue, but the back is all white. Those of good memory will remember that the whole ‘different colour back and front’ thing was a bit of a trend a few years back, but this is literally a 50/50 split, with the dotted stripes down the middle of the sleeves acting as the breakwater between the white bit and the back bit.
If the home shirt is a bit of an acquired taste, then the away jersey is even more controversial. As stated, it’s the same basic template as the home design, but the really unusual thing here is the colours used.
The use of yellow, green and blue in this kit is a tribute to another high-profile Pretorian sporting institution – namely Mamelodi Sundowns FC. The Sundowns are one of the most successful soccer teams in South Africa, and the kit certainly is a faithful tribute…
It certainly looks rather nice, but the question begs… why are the Bulls choosing to mark their 80th birthday by paying tribute to another, more successful, local team? In a period where the Bulls are far from a force in South African rugby, it rather feels like they’re trying to hang onto the coat tails of the Sundowns’ success and good feeling, which is just a bit sad, really.
Combined with a baffling and ugly main jersey motif, and a collar that looks almost comically wide, there’s not a great deal to save these shirts – an institution as proud and storied as the Bulls deserved something more, we think.