Back in April we reported on a huge kit shakeup that was coming to the Top 14 in 2021/22, with big hitters Nike and Adidas poised to bring their unparalleled expertise in design to some of the best and biggest teams in the league.
The first of these, La Rochelle’s Adidas deal, was announced last week, but another has not only been confirmed, but has totally blown our preconceptions out of the wayer. When we reported that Racing 92 was teaming back up with Nike, we claimed that it would enable Nike to “continue to effectively make Argentina jerseys” – but seems to have been very, very wide of the mark, as Nike’s first Racing jersey completely tears up everything we’ve come to expect from the Parisian club.
Revealed in an interview with Racing president Jacky Lorenzetti in La Figaro this morning, the 2021/22 Nike Racing home shirt is jaw-dropping, and is sure to be hugely controversial with fans.
Instead of the classic blue and white hoops that we’ve come to expect every season, Nike has taken the recipe and gone so left-field you could almost call it an impressionist jersey. The asymmetrical design has thick hoops on one shoulder, think hoops on the other, a mix of both on the body and pinstriping that seemingly goes wherever it pleases, including one red pinstripe bisecting the club badge and Nike swoosh on the left chest.
Speaking to La Figaro, Lorenzetti defended this bold new design. “We are aware that there is a change but it looks like a Racing jersey,” he insisted. “The colours remain the same. We wanted to be a little more modern. We do not renounce the past, but we want to be more contemporary.”
“Since 1892, the Racing jersey has not changed, which created 139 years of tradition and affection. We wanted, as we did with the training centre at Plessis-Robinson and the Arena, to show that the club was evolving and continuing to grow. Nike has created a new jersey that expresses this evolution. With unstructured hoops, it represents both tradition and modernity – it’s like the journey from the traditional Arc de Triomphe and the modern, Grande Arche de la Défense [in Paris].”
Who knows how fans of the club will react to this evolutionary new design, but with a five-year deal signed between Nike and Racing 92, this is just the start. What’s more, Lorenzetti also confirmed that, as we reported, Nike’s business with the Top 14 isn’t over yet: “They will also be partners of Toulon and Toulouse, Nike is back in rugby.”