With the pool stages finally over, taking with it some of the Rugby World Cup’s most handsome jerseys, previous debates about the best jersey at the tournament have to be streamlined…
But instead of picking the best of what’s left, we decided that the only thing to do would be to treat the remaining eight jerseys as we would the teams that wear them – head to head, winner goes home, who’s going to come out on top?
England v Australia
On the pitch Eddie Jones’ men might have total recent dominance over the Aussies, but when it comes to kit choice, it’s not so easy.
England undoubtedly have one of the most bland and uninspired jerseys of the tournament, while Australia’s ultra-modern design is not exactly a classic.
If the Wallabies has the good sense to wear their Indigenous jersey again this wouldn’t even be a discussion, but ultimately we’ll still give it to the Aussies by a nose.
New Zealand v Ireland
The resumptions of one of the most interesting and competitive fixtures in international rugby over the last few year, but in the shirt stakes it’s really not much of a contest.
Ireland’s home shirt – just like England – is blandly fine we suppose, but compared to the creativity and design depth found on the All Blacks wild fern-embossed jersey.
The All Blacks’ shirt feels like it’s not really had much chance to shine given NZ’s lack of meaningful games since round 1, so it’s nice to see it get some prime time love again.
WINNER: New Zealand
Wales v France
Another match that on first glance might appear to be pretty close, but in reality it’s actually rather comprehensive.
France’s red cock-emblazoned jersey looks rather nice from a distance, and we do enjoy the tricolore side vents, but closer inspection reveals an ugly collar and weird nipple-chafing panelling.
Wales on the other hand have perhaps the most interesting and lovely jersey they’ve had in the Under Armour era, with its quartered pattern and lovey collar really setting it apart.
Japan v South Africa
There’s a lot to be said for the Springboks’ clean and classy home shirt, and we prefer the angular neckline better here than we do with the Australia shirt, but just like the real Boks, what they’re going against is not the normal thing.
Everything about Japan in this World Cup has been absolutely wonderful, and that starts with their utterly fantastic jersey.
The angled hoops, the gold trim, the wonderfully intricate Japanese art patterns sublimated into the whole thing, it’s a special garment for a special team, and in both cases are clearly the neutral’s choice.
So it turns out the top seeds in all but one encounter also have the best jerseys? Maybe there is something about looking good and playing good… how will that pan out in reality? We’ll see you next week for the semi-finals and see how many of our picks made it through!