France’s relationship with the big global sports brands has been a long and fruitful one – from the mid-80s they were Adidas, then around the turn of the millennium they were Nike, and then back to Adidas again… but no longer.
Since 2012 Les Bleus have been wearing a succession of increasingly bold and modern three-striped jerseys, but a year ago we got the news that this relationship would be coming to an end, with French brand Le Coq Sportif coming into the frame instead.
Well, we say coming into the frame, more like back into it – LCS outfitted France in their glory days of the 70s and 80s, up until their Grand Slam in 1981.
It makes sense then that Le Coq Sportif have opted to go pretty classic and traditional for their first crack at the France shirt in over 30 years – not just to provide a stark contrast with the Adidas days.
So we have Les Bleus back in that classic shade of, well, blue… complete with a classic-style fold-over collar and not a lot else, asides from the modern touch of the red, white and blue stripes that make up the left shoulder.
The only other real change from the norm is the still new-feeling presence of the main sponsor logo on the chest, which came in for the first time ever last season.
LCS is making a big noise about how this new kit is designed and made in France, using French materials etc, and that’s certainly a nice touch, but on the whole we find this shirt a little wanting – the collar placket is too big, and looks like a too-short tie, the tricolore on the sleeve is a bit obvious, and the shirt itself just feels a little… meh.
It’s a perfectly acceptable design, but compared with the bold and radical designs from Adidas and Nike that have been such a feature of French rugby for the last few decades, this feels a little bit safe, a little predictable, and rather unsubtle – maybe it’ll be a grower, but our first impression is a bit underwhelmed.