Good morning Uni Watchers!
It was a relatively quiet day on the uni-front, yesterday. Really, about the only semi-big news was the Philadelphia 76ers changing the block shadow on their blue jersey (and of course there is plenty of other uni-news you’ll read about in the ticker).
I am once again joined by our own Anthony Emerson, who in addition to compiling our tickers twice weekly, has also contributed a few articles to the site, including a really great piece last week grading the GOP candidates logos.
Today’s article is actually going to be a two-parter previewing the kits of the 2023 Rugby World Cup (both parts will run this morning), since there are 10 teams and reviews in each article, so there’s a lot to cover.
by Anthony Emerson
Next Friday at the Parc des Princes just outside of Paris, France and New Zealand will kick off the 10th Rugby World Cup. South Africa will seek to win their record fourth World Cup and retain the title from four years ago in Japan. The Springboks also won the World Cup the last time it was held in France, in 2007. England will seek to win their second World Cup twenty years after their first one, with two silver medals in the interim. And for the USA or Canada, who both qualified four years ago…both nations failed to qualify, with all three Americas qualifiers coming from South America.
Get ready to read the word “sublimated” a lot. Basically every team has added something to the fabric to make their kit look better. Does it always work? Well, of course not. I’m here to tell you where it does and where it doesn’t. From traditional Polynesian art to “performance chest grippers,” here is the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
For some reason, Adidas and the All Blacks chose to launch their kits without color photography, so the above photo doesn’t show how prominent the sublimated silver fern motif is. This has garnered controversy among All Blacks fans, due to the abstract design of the fern itself, and the notion of an All Blacks jersey not being all black. I, for one, think NZ would’ve looked better without it.
Here’s the change shirt by the way, which they *may* wear for their opening match against France, or maybe not – tbd pic.twitter.com/1EdDTVc9uk
— Rucked – The Rugby Magazine (@rucked_mag) June 28, 2023
On the contrary, I quite like the away jersey. Instead of going for a traditional bright white, they’ve instead gone with a more cream color. Not to mention, they’ve avoided the silly sublimated design.
Le Coq Sportif have done the hosts no favors here, with ugly blue splotches under the armpits of both the home navy and away white on otherwise unspectacular T-shirts. I quite like how prominent the Gallic rooster is, but that’s about it.
The Azzurri’s kits feature a sublimated laurel wreath design “inspired by the one in the FIR’s crest.” I like that, but I have no idea what’s going on with the collar and the design abruptly stopping on the yoke and sleeves makes the whole thing look slightly amateurish.
Depending on the lighting, the home jersey looks either sky blue or teal. I certainly hope it’s the former. It’s sort of hard to tell on the orange away jersey, but they both include a sublimated Sol de Mayo design, a reference to the national flag of Uruguay. I could do without the white cut-out on the collar, and the primary kit could use more color, but overall this is a solid set for Los Teros.
For the record, 895 Namibian dollars is about $60 US. The Welwitschias have played at every World Cup since 1999, and 2019 actually saw their best finish ever (17th out of 20). This year, we have a traditional Namibian blue primary shirt with a white away, although they’ve added some flair with striping under the arms of the white and a similar red design on the upper back of the home. I’m not sure if there’s any greater meaning to those designs, or if they’re just supposed to look cool, but it’s unfortunate we won’t see more of these kits at the World Cup, as the southern African minnows are destined to be eliminated in the group stage.
This is Nike’s first kit for the Springboks since inheriting the contract from Asics, and it’s a beauty. But really, it’s nigh impossible to screw up with those colors, right? Bokke have a very traditional kit, with sublimated hoops and a traditional polo collar, which contains a design inspired by the flag of South Africa. It’s stunning, perhaps the single best of any team at the World Cup.
Nike have gone a totally different direction with the away kit, but it’s still a triumph. While the home is an homage to the look of Bokke’s past, the away kit is decidedly modern. Despite the use of a color palate unfamiliar to the Springboks, Nike have once again hit a home run (or, perhaps, scored a try) with a bold design taking cues from indigenous art.
Irish fans are not happy with the shade of green used by Canterbury, and I can’t blame them. In the past, Ireland used a darker green, closer to a forest shade, but Canterbury has inexplicably lightened it to a more minty hue. It looks dreadful, coupled with a rather staid overall design for the kits. Not sure what the black cuff stripe is doing on the white one, either — completely superfluous, and makes the jersey look worse than it already does.
If it weren’t for the tartan pattern under the arms, I wouldn’t really like the home kit. The tartan is also the Scottish Rugby Union’s official tartan, which is a cool touch. I didn’t even know the SRU had a tartan. I think the jersey would look better with more of a polo collar, and I find the thick neck stripe to be distracting. Why isn’t it the same size as the sleeve cuff stripes? And why didn’t they include the green stripe?
I do dig the away kit, with its V-neck and sublimated tartan pattern (you can see it much better in that photo than the above one). If they had taken the design elements from the away and matched them on the home, we’d have a much better set overall.
The ‘Ikale Tahi‘s home kit features a prominent kupesi tokelaufeletoa sublimated design, although FXV doesn’t extend it onto the shoulder yokes for some reason. The rear neckline features the national moto of Tonga, “Ko eʻOtua mo Tonga ko hoku Tofiʻa” or, “God and Tonga are my inheritance.” In terms of national identity, there are few kits at the RWC stronger than Tonga’s.
The away jersey is very much an inversion of the home, though the kupesi tokelaufeletoa design is not quite as prominent, making it seem like a plain white jersey at first glance. This could’ve been the time to make the design really prominent, like what South Africa did with their away jersey.
The first thing everyone will notice about the Romanian kits are the sleeve designs. “Inspired by typical geometric designs found on traditional Romanian fabrics and clothing,” according to the press release, I do like the idea of having a different design on each kit, and having one of those designs be a different color on each sleeve. The collar design, however, makes the players look like priests, especially on the white jersey. And how could they leave the socks completely blank? They look like someone had to run to a sporting goods store and buy them right before the photoshoot.