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Rugby Referee Uniforms — A Lack of Uniformity

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[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from reader Eric Bangeman, who will be broaching the topic of Rugby Referee uniforms. A couple of the links were wonky, but hopefully they will all work today. Enjoy! — PH]

For most sports, referee uniforms are… uniform. With football and hockey you’ll get some variation of stripes. Basketball and wresting have stripes or grey tops with black pants. You say “Hey Blue!” to an umpire because that’s the predominant color of their uniforms. Even soccer is constant: black shorts with a solid, usually primary-colored top that contrasts with the teams’ kit.

Rugby union is another matter. With 30 players and just one referee on the pitch, referees above all else need to contrast enough so that they’re not mistaken for players. That’s the only constant—a contrast-color jersey with the logo or crest of the rugby union, league, or referee society the referee is affiliated with. As a result, each country and each league does its own thing. And in the case of one league, the referee’s uniform is entirely different depending on which country the match is being played in. Let’s dig in.

Test matches

World Cups aside, World Rugby has used the same color scheme for most of the last couple of decades. Referees wear either a white, blue, or orange top with blue shorts. There’s also an all-black uniform worn when the other options are too similar to the players’ uniforms. With players as large as 6’10″ and 280lb, a referee really does not want to be mistaken for a player. The jersey template has changed occasionally over the years, but the color scheme has remained constant. Unfortunately, so has a massive Fly Emirates logo.

For the 2019 Rugby World Cup, referees got new, sublimated jerseys in purple, coral, and teal paired with navy blue shorts. Although the appearance of purple jerseys might troubling for some people, it was more than offset by the lack of advertising on front of the jerseys.

European Rugby Championship

Just like soccer, there’s a pan-European club competition called the European Rugby Championship. It features the top teams from the three major European leagues. The referees wear a yellow jersey with black shorts with an EPCR logo.

Gallagher Premiership

The 12-club Gallagher Premiership sits at the top of the English rugby pyramid. Currently, their referees wear either white, pink, or light blue jerseys with a light blue side panel trimmed with black. The jerseys are paired with black shorts. And the jerseys all have Gallgher’s logo front and center.

Guinness Pro14

The Guinness Pro14 started life as the Celtic League, with franchises in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Since then, it has expanded across continents and time zones, with teams in Italy and South Africa. In previous years, Pro14 referee jerseys have been pretty basic: either a yellow or bright green top and black pants. Now, jerseys have a pink-and-white wavy pattern with black side panels and shorts with a massive EIR logo on the front. There’s also a bright green top, which I’ve seen used in games involving the Cheetahs (located in Bloemfontein, South Africa), presumably to eliminate any possibility of confusion with that team’s orange-and-white hoops.

Top 14

France’s highest-level professional competition is known for a grueling, 26-match season and the occasional punch-up. The referee uniforms there are simple: pink or green tops with black shorts. The jerseys have a black loop collar and carry the Top14 logo along with the badge of the French Rugby Federation. And yes, there’s an ad. In this case, for La Poste.

Super Rugby

Super Rugby is what got me hooked on this glorious sport. This 15-team league has franchises in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and Japan. (If you’re a committed insomniac, check out matches kicking off in the middle of the night US time.)

Super Rugby referee uniforms depend on which country the game is being played in. Each national union has its own sponsorship advertiser for the competition, and the referee jerseys reflect this.

New Zealand

New Zealand has gone full banana for its referees, as they wear yellow jerseys and shorts with a giant SpecSavers ad on it. It might be a small improvement from the all-pink jerseys they wore a couple of years ago, when the jersey sponsor was a home insulation company.


Australia has taken a turn for the worse, as the jersey advertiser is FedEx, and… well, see for yourself. Things were better in previous years, as the Australian Rugby Union had some spiffy spiffy orange and gray uniforms. Now they look like FedEx drivers who work in a really warm climate.

South Africa

South Africa referees used to dress in green and gold, the colors of the Springboks. That worked in part because none of the South African franchises use green in their color scheme. Now, the referees wear a green-and-purple outfit that that looks better than it sounds.


Anything South Africa can do, Argentina can do better. Argentina has a single Super Rugby franchise, the Jaguares, and the referees at their home games also wear green and purple, but it looks worse, with the vertical stripes on the jerseys and wide green panel on the purple shorts. Yuck.


The Sunwolves are Japan’s lone Super Rugby entrant, but they’re getting booted out of the competition at the end of the season because reasons. At least the refs look ok in Japan, as they sport solid yellow jerseys and plain black shorts.

Major League Rugby

Major League Rugby is in its third season, expanding from 7 to 9 to 12 teams. It’s the first viable professional rugby competition in the country, and it’s caught the interest of rugby fans both inside the US and around the world, judging by the comments on /r/rugbyunion. MLR referees wear solid pink or light blue uniforms, with the league shield over the left breast and a maker’s mark on the other side. The jerseys themselves have black sleeves and gradient checked pattern that fades to full pink with pink shorts.

Local referee organizations

The lower levels of the game offer a hodgepodge of referee jerseys, usually paired with black shorts. USA Rugby, when it’s not hemmorhaging money, will provide jerseys for national championship events. Those will always have the USA Rugby badge on the chest, no matter what the color. Local Referee Organizations provide their own kit, usually with the logo of their local rugby union or referee society. In Chicago, we’ve just switched from this to this.

So when you are channel surfing and stumble across an violent, fast-paced sport built on the principles of contest, continuity, and respect, take a moment to notice the one man (or woman—women referee men’s games and vice-versa) in the middle of the fray and appreciate how nicely their uniform contrasts with the teams. And turn the volume up—the referee is always wearing a live microphone.

• • •

Thanks Eric!

Uni Concepts & Tweaks

After being dormant for a while, the Uni Tweaks/Concepts have returned!

I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).

• • •

I received an e-mail from Dan Matthews a short while back, wherein he concepts some new Spring Training 2020 logos. Sadly, there is no more ST20, but the logos are pretty cool nonetheless. Here’s Dan:

Hey there,

I was bored one day and – for no reason at all – came up with Spring Training Logos/patches for MLB. Yes, completely unnecessary and unneeded in any respect, but


Dan Matthews

• • •

Thanks Dan. Wish the timing were better — maybe these can work for 2021, when hopefully this whole COVID-19 pandemic is in the past.

OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.

Guess The Game…

from the scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Sugaree.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.

“Your Shower Shoes Have Fungus…”

What do you do when there’s no sports (and hence, no uni watching) on TV?

Well, you could always check out some good sports movies. I know we all have our own favorites and for their own reasons, but for me, Bull Durham is easily Top 5.

And, as I love baseball more than any other sport (with the possible exception of curling), it should probably come as no surprise most of my favorite sports movies are baseball related.

I give you (in no particular order) my top 5:

Bull Durham
Major League
Field of Dreams
The Natural

I haven’t gotten to the point where I need to replace my live sports with movies, but so long as the coronavirus pandemic continues and we’re without, it may only be a number of days.

Have you guys started watching sports movies (or say, sports you didn’t see live but live on forever on YouTube?). And, if you feel like it — what are your Top 5 best sports movies — and why would you recommend them (are there any good uni watching moments contained therein)?

Signs Of The Times…

Click to enlarge


Shit just got real.

What you see above is a tabletop sign, found in a local McDonalds (I live in New York), which is actually following an executive order by my Governor, to limit seating capacity in areas with under a certain seating capacity (under 500) — these places are required to reduce seating capacity by 50%, so one of these signs has been placed on every other table/seat. Just part of the new normal. Better to be safe than sorry. At least the restaurant hasn’t been closed. This is one of the small inconveniences (and there are many major ones) we’re all experiencing as we seek to combat the coronovirus pandemic from further spreading.

Welcome to the new normal.

Already, I’ve had all my grad school classes moved from on campus to online, my curling (both the league in which I play and the league in which I teach) have been cancelled, and there have been other disruptions (as a side note, I’m one of those people who walks in the mall when the weather is cold, and I’ve noticed a YUGE decrease in the number of folks in the mall — like it’s pretty empty these days). I haven’t seen a great number of people wearing gloves and/or facemasks (which one is only supposed to be wearing if one is infected — they apparently aren’t needed for healthy people), but I have seen a few.

So — how is this situation affecting you guys? Lots of schools have been closed, many (if not all) public events have been cancelled — obviously all the major sports leagues have suspended play. How are you adapting? What’s changed significantly? Are you going stir-crazy yet?

Are you taking this seriously? Are you worried?

I realize it’s off uni-topic, but I’m just curious how others are being impacted.

Also — this happened to me yesterday — saw a guy from my curling league who I hadn’t seen in a few months while randomly walking in the neighborhood. And as we approached each other, I asked, “are we shaking or doing the elbow bump thing?” He said “better to be safe — just gimme a bump.”

If you see someone with whom you’d normally shake hands (or even hug), have you altered your greeting? Or do your encounters get awkward, like this:

Love to hear how this whole thing is affecting you — please let us know in the comments below.

Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: Apparently not everything sports-related has been shut down due to COVID-19: “New green jerseys for Pensacola Catholic HS in Pensacola, FL,” writes Timmy Donahue. … Also from Timmy, new stars & stripes jersey for the baseball team at DeMatha HS in Hyattsville, MD. … “Promising news for future baseball enthusiasts!” read the subject line of an e-mail from Michael Emody. He continues, “I was reading the on-line Austin American-Statesman today and noticed a pic of what was probably the last high school baseball game of 2020 in Texas. In it was a glimmer of hope for mankind’s future.” Let’s hope he was referring to the stirrups and not the pullovers and faux-vests. Here’s more on that game. … Spring Training may be cancelled, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still check out these St. Looey Cards ST pics from years past (from Kevin Eckhoff). … According to MiLB Promos, “4th season of Copa de la Diversion is really taking things to the next level. Here’s the Yacumamas de Asheville from the @GoTourists”

NFL/Pro Football News: “The Giants posted the attached photo on Facebook for Pi Day,” says Alex Cohen. “They highlighted the numbers 11, 16 and 56 which are retired for Phil Simms, Frank Gifford and Lawrence Taylor. They also highlighted 10 and 92, which makes me think they might be hinting at finally retiring Michael Strahan’s number along with Eli Manning’s number, which was already widely expected.” … It’s not just NBA players anymore. An XFL player has tested positive for the coronavirus (from Timmy Donahue).

College Football News: College Football seems to be about the only sport not affected by the coronavirus these days, and that’s simply because (other than a possibly cancelled spring game) they’re not in action. It looks like Andrew Jones will be assigned uniform #3 by the FSU Seminoles. … “Not the best pic, but watching the 1977 Texas at Arkansas game and Arky’s running back suffered a badly torn jersey,” writes Josh Claywell.

Hockey News: These two items come from Wade Heidt: 1) Here is a look at the St. Patrick’s Days jerseys the Spokane Chiefs were going to wear on March 14. Here’s a bit more on that; and, 2) Here is a look at the St. Patrick’s Day jerseys the Sudbury Wolves were to wear March 17. … Who doesn’t long for the glorious days of the mullet? (from rodie).

NBA News: Looking for some NBA uni concepts while the league is shut down? Behance has you covered (h/t to Andrew E.T.K.). … Hit The Glass laments, “no NBA so I’m watching old school games. Doug West, Minnesota Timberwolves, with the huge captain C in 1994.”

College Hoops News: Maryland doesn’t retire jersey numbers, but it does hang jerseys of its legendary players at Xfinity Center. Looks like senior PG Anthony Cowan will have his jersey hung at some point. … ESPN republished an article on the best college basketball player at each number (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer).

Soccer News: “Looks like one of the new entries to MLS in 2022 (Sac Republic) is considering changing their crest/brand,” writes Jon Rango. “Recieved this survey from them (yester)day asking about Crest modifications and uniform colors.” … Reader/tweeter Josh Hinton posted a tweet yesterday, and you should check out the replies to it as well, that asked, “What’s your favorite faux-back kit? Mine has to be the 2017/18 Huddersfield third kit, based off their 1991-1993 away kit.” … Also from Josh: Fellow USL1 side Chattanooga Red Wolves revealed their 2020 home and away kits. … Forward Madison FC did a live jersey unveiling yesterday (h/t Paul).

Grab Bag: “In desperate search of sports to watch last night, I fired up last Sunday’s game between San Diego Legion and Rugby United New York. The referee was wearing the light blue, which I hadn’t seen before,” writes Eric Langeman, who’s suffering from coronavirus-induced lack-of-sports watching. “Also, have you seen the new RUNY uniforms? They’re very Mets-like,” he adds. … Are you wondering what sports events (and sports-related venues, like the Halls of Fame) are being closed or suspended due to the coronavirus? The Boston Herald has you covered. … UPDATE! Not all sports cancelled (from Pesky’s Pole). … “If you are looking for sport, @thePSLt20 is continuing their season without fans in attendance. Here is @IsbUnited at @KarachiKingsARY from Karachi,” writes Art of Scorebug.

And Finally…

Tuesday is St. Paddy’s Day — a day when “everyone is Irish” or something like that — but one of the great joys for Uni Watcher’s (or perhaps the bane of our existence) is the spate of green and St. Paddy’s themed jerseys for teams — you saw a couple above in the ticker that were nixed. Sure, they’re cliched by now, and most of them are just an excuse to part suckers from their money, but I always enjoyed seeing teams trot them out (whether it be MLB, who seemed to have mostly green-capped teams, and some sporting either green or white with green-subbed-in-for-regular-team-color jerseys, or the NHL, who would wear them for warmups). There were even a few NBA teams who broke out special unis just for the occasion. Sadly, we’ll have none of that this year.

COVID-19 is really taking a toll on everyone — so be safe and not stupid, OK? It only takes a few idiots to make this situation worse.

My best to everyone in the Uni Watch family — hang in there everyone. Be safe!



Comments (41)

    Scoreboard Game-
    Wednesday April 29, 2015
    Orioles defeated the White Sox 8-2
    Played without fans due to the Baltimore riots.

    Ok uni watchers. I have the perfect movie for you. It came out in 1996 and was called The Fan. A synopsis:

    “A troubled salesman who peddles knives, Gil Renard (Robert De Niro) has a volatile personality, which has resulted in divorce and a strained relationship with his young son. The one thing that Renard cares passionately about is baseball, particularly the San Francisco Giants and the team’s newest recruit, Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes). As Renard’s personal life continues to crumble, he begins obsessively tracking Rayburn, leading to kidnapping and even murder.”

    I saw it when it came out. It was an interesting movie, but I was distracted by several “continuity errors” in the baseball scenes. These were the days before Uni Watch, so I felt like I was the only one who cared. For example, a batter would take a swing in a home uni and run the bases in a road uni. A pitch would be thrown in Coors Field and leave the park in Candlestick. I have sometimes wanted to go back and document the gaffes, but never have. If someone wanted to do that, it could make a good lede story as we search for content.

    I have watched pieces of the movie in the cable TV manner (twenty minutes here, thirty other minutes there).

    I do recommend the book.

    My top sports movies:
    1. Hoosiers
    2. Field of Dreams
    3. Bull Durham
    4. Remember the Titans
    5. Caddyshack
    6. Breaking Away
    7. The Natural
    8. Eight Men Out
    9. The Bad News Bears
    10. The Greatest Game Ever Played

    In no particular order, my top 5 sports movies are:

    Major League
    Field of Dreams
    A League of Their Own
    Bull Durham
    Eight Men Out

    And as an added bonus since it’s not a sports movie, the last half of The Naked Gun (It’s Enrico Pallazzo!) is some of the funniest stuff ever!

    ChrisH’s 5 (and 1):

    5. The Waterboy
    4. Hoosiers
    3. The Natural
    2. Days of Thunder
    1. Rocky

    And 1:
    The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon

    Sure I long for the glory days on the mullet, but I really miss the glory days of the skullet.


    About sports movies. There are those that make the usual list. Here are a couple of biopic hockey movies that might not be really familiar with some fans in the U.S. These are really interesting shows to catch is you are a uni watcher as they depict actual NHL and WHA teams from those times.

    The Rocket:


    Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story:


    There are these sports movies I get a kick out of seeing as a Vancouver resident. Happy Gilmore, Rocky IV, and Miracle all have a common venue they have used in their movies. All 3 of these movies use the PNE Agrodome on the Pacific National Exhibition grounds in Vancouver. It is an eccentric small arena built in the 1960s. If you ever walk into this arena, you would think it is nothing special. However, it did host the big Rocky fight in the Soviet Union and the US hockey team winning Olympic gold on the silver screen.



    other non-fictional ones off the top of my head:

    Net Worth
    (read the book – not sure if I watched the movie)

    Hunting the Last Hamilton Tiger
    (unless CBC replays it, finding this one will be almost as difficult as finding that Hamilton Tigers NHL sweater)

    Red Army
    saw when it surprising came to my small city at a film festival

    to round it out to five (not a top five)…

    I’ll add a Canadian television hockey drama that has one of the most 90’s looking jerseys I can think of:

    and for the “weekend warriors” out there who overdue it, the intro to this movie is what sometimes comes to mind when I’ve overdone it or injured myself

    Major League
    The Sandlot
    Happy Gilmore
    A League of Their Own
    White Men Can’t Jump

    If The Big Lebowski counts – that’s #1

    Another day where I can only load ads and no pics for the article. I mentioned this issue a few days ago but the archive wont let me get to the post to see if anyone replied. Am I the only having g major issues since the format changes? Could it be my phone?

    I’m on a Samsung S10+ and everything’s loading OK. I’m also good on the web….Gotta be a setting somewhere on your device. I hope you can see this!

    Phil, if I were you, I wouldn’t be walking within 100 yards of a McDonalds right now. Stay safe.

    Great job on the Rugby Ref kit. I’ve been a player and fan of rugby since 97. and a Ref since 2001. The first USA collegiate 7’s tourney in Columbus years ago on NBC, they decided to put the refs in black and white verticals. Tried to imitate NCAA etc. Looked awful. Cheers.

    “Victory” I have a soft spot for, simply because of the polyglot POW team which vaguely crosses “Stalag 17” and “The Longest Yard”.

    Caine centers it all, and Stallone is nicely cast as an American who can’t understand he can’t use his hands, so they make him the goalie. It’s like a WWII-era movie of a platoon made up of one-of-everybody with William Bendix as Sarge.

    In no particular order:
    Eddie The Eagle
    The Rookie
    Cool Runnings
    For Love Of The Game
    Forget Paris (or Mr. Baseball)

    Not ready to watch any of these yet because I have tons of games I’ve taped and never watched. Last month I finally saw the 2001 Patriot League title game. I was going to watch the 2014 Atlantic 10 final today, but CBS is showing the 2015 game.

    It’ll get real when the liquor shelves are empty. Right now it’s just TP, bread and Purell. Don’t hoard, people.

    And don’t bump. As I said yesterday, if you really want to shake hands, shake your own while you face the person you’re greeting.

    All my rugby experience is through my daughter playing in high school, so I’m hardly any kind of expert in the culture of the game. That said, my understanding is the ref is not called ‘the ref’ but ‘The Sir’, regardless of playing level or gender. And unlike the American tradition of grumbling about officiating, The Sir’s word is sacrosanct.
    Those of you that have played or reffed, please correct or clarify as needed.

    D’oh! Commented before seeing Adam Ingle’s post.
    Adam: would love to hear your thoughts.

    Hard to list just five, but I’d go with:

    Bang the Drum Slowly
    Chariots of Fire
    Bull Durham
    The Bad News Bears (original)

    As a bonus, I’d recommend a sports-adjacent recent movie that too few people saw, Brian Banks.

    How is COVID-19 changing my life? Well, I was out of work for 2.5 months and just got hired again…At Disney World, which is shitting down until at least April.

    Favorite Five, no particular order

    Bull Durham
    Bad News Bears
    Field of Dreams
    The Natural

    Guilty Pleasures/obscure

    The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh
    The Longest Yard (Burt Reynolds)
    Teen Wolf
    Fast Break

    Ever since I lost my job, I’ve been using afternoon trips to the Wykagyl Starbucks as opportunities to recharge my artistic batteries and get some drawing done. Today they removed all the furniture and are doing takeout and mobile orders only. It doesn’t help that this SBX is inside the New Rochelle containment area, but another branch in Scarsdale was observing the same policy. I guess I better get used to staying home:(

    Most of my Top 10 have been listed above, but I don’t think “North Dallas Forty” gets enough love. I’m also a fan of the original “Rollerball”, though that may be considered a Sci-Fi film than a sports film. “Downhill Racer” is also a solid sports film.

    Last Boy Scout(for my money the best football theme song/music)
    Eight Men Out
    Cool Runnings
    Starship Troopers
    Any Given Sunday

    OMG I’m a jerk

    PORKYS all three, I have an Angel Beach High jersey. My father was very proud that it was filmed at his alma mater Miami High

    With the corporatization of sports well apace, I’m surprised no one listed Rollerball among their top five.

    The Naked Gun is my favorite baseball movie =D

    “How about that Queen, Ladies and Gentlemen!”

    If Naked Gun counts as a sports movie, then ‘A Few Good Men’ definitely should.

    “You keep your eyes open and your chances of catching the ball increase by a factor of 10.”

Comments are closed.