With Super Rugby Pacific giving a new flavour to Southern Hemisphere rugby in 2022, it’s fitting that for the first time in two years, 2022 will also see all five of New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams get a new set of jerseys to play with.
As usual with Aotearoa teams, they’re a broad church of styles and vary from the wild to the downright conservative, let’s dive in.
Another season, another shade of blue for the Blues, who are certainly putting the plural in their name to good use. The home jersey represents the meeting point of the four tides – as it does at Cape Reinga in the Far North of Te Tai Tokerau (Northland), where the tides of Te Moana nui a Kiwa (the Pacific) and Te Tai o Rēhua (the Tasman Sea) converge. It’s a tribute to the migration that has made Aotearoa what it is today, from the first Waka to the most recent arrival, all are represented on the jersey.
The away shirt is a tribute to the iconic 1999 Auckland Blues jersey, with the famous shoulder diamonds reimagined for the modern era.
The Chiefs have been one of the foremost teams in rugby when it comes to telling a story through their jerseys, and 2022 is no different. The home shirt is called ‘Ngā hihi o te rā‘ – The Rays of the Sun, with the top half reflecting the radiating waves of the sun, while the kōwhaiwhai at the bottom reflect the waterways of the region uniting everyone.
The away shirt is named He Piringa Pāua, with the stunning colouring designed to represent a pāua shell, borrowing from the Māori axiom: ‘Ka haere te pāua ki te toka, he piringa pāua – The pāua will go to the rock and cling to it fiercely.’ In this case, it represents how the Chiefs still hold fast to their home and fans when they’re away from home.
Following their decision to rebrand team in 2019, the Crusaders have spent the last two years in something of a limbo – in 2020 they played with a ‘transitional’ logo, while in 2021 the new logo finally debuted on a jersey, albeit one that was likely designed with the old ‘medieval knight’ branding in mind.
For 2022 then, we finally get a fully realised version of what the ‘new’ Crusaders vibe is, and it’s certainly striking, with the Ka Tiritiri o te Moana (Southern Alps) mountains prominent on a jersey that comes with a message: ‘These mountain ranges don’t divide us, they unite us’.
As with the Blues, this year’s Highlanders home and away jerseys mix up another turn of the Millennium classic – in this case a much more subtle remix of the ‘tartan shoulder‘ jersey that Otago wore in 1999.
2022’s version is a great deal more restrained, much to our disappointment, but up close it still has a fun 90s aesthetic.
Perhaps because playing in yellow is deemed to be striking enough, the Hurricanes rarely go as outside the box as the other New Zealand teams, and so it is this year with two very clean and simple designs.
As usual, there’s a subtle but cool ‘hurricane’ pattern that emanates from the club crest – something that’s been done before in slightly different ways.
Moana Pasifika might not be a New Zealand team, but they’ll be based in NZ for the foreseeable future, and as such we’re gonna include them in this list – if for no other reason than to highlight their cool new jerseys, which are designed to reflect the combined cultures and history of the Pacific Islands.
So across the front of the home jersey we have a promient sail motif, which is a tribute to the shared history of ocean exploration, while the jersey itself features traditional and modern patterns from the various cultures, united on the jersey as they will be on the field.
So if you look closely you’ll see Samoan tatau and Tongan ngatu patterns, while elsewhere you’ll see modern Niuean design inspired by traditional Hiapo patterns, traditional Tokelauan and Cook Island inspired tatau designs. In short – very cool.