Since they took on the RFU contract in 2012, Canterbury’s England shirts have tended to either be very clean and classic, or a little bit different than the norm, but the 2018/19 shirt manages to straddle both camps.
From a distance, this looks to be another very clean, very plain England home shirt with minimal ornamentation beyond the single thin red stripe across the shoulders, but a closer look reveals something a bit more unconventional.
Closer inspection reveals an interesting and intricate pattern covering the entire body of the design, which Canterbury and the RFU have regrettably decided to describe as ‘white noise’
This very subtle light grey hashed pattern is designed to represent ‘the effect created by the sound of England supporters cheering the team on’. Unfortunately of course, ‘white noise’ is a term associated with unpleasant interference, or occasionally sending people to sleep… not exactly what England were going for, we’d wager.
To be honest, though, as much as we often enjoy the stories and concepts that brands invariably create to go with jersey launches these days, 90% of the time these concepts are a bit silly anyway – how they look is the important thing.
And on the whole we think it looks cool – an interestingly modern take on the England formula, while the grey and red St George Crosses dotting the design are a nice throwback to the 2014 England Sevens shirt.
The alternate kit continues the recent trend of dark and brooding change jerseys, with the 2018 vintage keeping the black colour of last season – or ‘anthracite’ in rugby jersey speak – with the same pattern as the home shirt.
The treatment of it on the change shirt makes that hatched pattern much more visible than on the home however, with those grey crosses standing out far more against the black background.
It’s also worth talking about the badges and crests on the 2018/19 jerseys as things are a little different here, too. England’s shirts have sported the super-cool injection-moulded rose since 2015, but this year the rose has been given a shiny silver background, which ties in with a dark grey/metallic silver CCC logo on the home and away shirts respectively.
We think the change is for the better – particularly on the home shirt, as the dark grey and dark blue of the O2 logo looks better than the red/blue combo used to (though we’d still prefer it if they matched, as they do on the away). It’s worth noting that for the first time the Canterbury logo is not stitched onto the test shirt.
There’s been a fair bit of consternation over the supposed creativity or lack thereof demonstrated by these new England shirts – but that’s pretty much par for the course with test jerseys in 2018.
Designing a test jersey is a high-wire balancing act between the public’s inherent conservatism regarding the ‘classic’ look of a test shirt with the need to create something fresh every season. This might not be the most radical set of England shirts ever, then, but we think they look pretty cool, and are nice balance of the modern and the traditional.