2023 Rugby World Cup Kit Preview, Part II
by Anthony Emerson
Welcome to Part II of our 2023 Rugby World Cup preview. Part I ran earlier this morning.
The Welsh have gone very traditional and conservative with their kits this year, which isn’t a bad thing for one of the oldest and most historic rugby national teams in the world. Both the home and away are fantastic, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the black away, inspired by the Flag of Saint David, an alternate flag of Wales. Saint David’s Cross is even sublimated on the kit, though it will be nigh-impossible to tell during game action.
The Wallabies have a permanent indigenous design included in their home kit for the first time, and I love its implementation here. Instead of going the traditionally sublimated route, as many other teams at the RWC have done, Asics and Australia have instead implemented the design in a shiny material on top of the base of the jersey. A really unique look. Unfortunately, there’s not much to write home about for the rest of the kit. Asics is continuing to insist on the world’s ugliest collar designs for no reason, and the sleeve cuffs are just a smidge too big.
The Aussie away kit also features an indigenous design, as they usually do. It’s fine, though I would’ve preferred if the design extended onto the sleeves, and it would’ve been cool to see them match the design from the primary gold jersey on this one.
Fiji is a team that I always think is in the running for “best looking team in the world,” and now that they’ve teamed up with Nike they’re firmly in that category. The home white is stunning, the perfect distillation of what a Fiji home kit should be — bright white, with a masi design under the arms. But the red ferns on the away kit really steal the show, and together they’re a perfect blend of classic and modern.
The Lelos have one of the most iconic and recognizable badges in world rugby, the borjgali. In fact, the borjgali is so iconic, Georgia is one of the few teams at the World Cup not to include any lettering on or around their badge. This year, they’ve sublimated the borjgali into the jersey itself. Combined with the retro piping, evoking the kits of 20 years ago, Georgia is dressed for success.
I feel like I’ve used the word “sublimated” a thousand times in this piece, but every single team is sublimating something on their kits, and Portugal is no different. Os Lobos are sublimating the quinas, the symbol at the center of the nation’s coat of arms. The effect is weird, looking like a chess board on the home red and a game of Tetris played through the world’s most staticky TV on the white. While I do like the collar and cuff striping, overall I’m not a fan.
The previous World Cup’s runners-up, England have a very drawn back home white. Comparatively, the usually conservative English went all-out four years ago. This time, the only design element outside of the team badge, maker’s mark and World Cup patch is the *ahem* “performance chest gripper.” Umbro couldn’t even come up with some marketing bullshit to try to explain what it signifies, because it signifies nothing.
The away navy also has the “performance chest gripper,” albeit in red, making it at least look like a design element rather than someone’s cat started clawing at the front of the jersey. I’m not wild about the design either; the panels remind me of a knockoff superhero’s armor. Disappointing.
Yes, you’re right. The Brave Blossoms’ kits are basically the same as they were four years ago. I didn’t like them then, and I don’t like them now. The fleur-de-lis is a nice touch, though — the World Cup is in France, after all.
Yes, again, basically the same as 2019, but with a fleur-de-lis. The 2019 Rugby World Cup was a triumphant moment for the fastest growing sport in Japan, where they beat Ireland and Scotland to top their pool and advance to the knockout stages. But come on, guys — the kits weren’t good! Let’s leave them in 2019 where they belong.
Nike, despite being derided in nearly every other sport they touch, has somehow come out with some of the best kits of this World Cup, and Los Pumas are no exception. On both kits, they’ve eschewed the traditional Argentinian Rugby Union logo in favor of the puma by itself, an excellent choice in my opinion. They’ve nailed the albiceleste hoops on the primary kit. The away kit is inspired by the uniforms worn by the Granaderos, led by national hero José de San Martín, who liberated the country from Spanish colonial rule. I’d prefer to believe that it was inspired by the US national soccer team’s 2010 kits, but I guess General San Martín’s Granaderos are fine too.
The Samoan kit is supposed to evoke the blue of the Pacific Ocean, complete with stylized seagull designs on the sleeves and shoulder yokes. This is an incredibly simple design, especially compared to the others we’ve seen so far, so I can’t help but feel like there’s something missing. But, what more does it need? Perhaps we should be praising Samoa for eschewing the sublimation craze the other teams have embraced.
The away kit is an inversion of the primary kit, and slightly worse in my opinion. The blue bit on the collar really stands out here, and while it was simple enough to ignore when it was white on blue on the home kit, this being the only splash of color on the entire jersey makes it somewhat of an eyesore.
Let’s wrap things up with the debutants, shall we? This is the first World Cup for which Los Cóndores have qualified (doing so by beating the USA), and they certainly want you to know that they’re here, with an almost eye-searingly red primary kit with a sublimated wave design on the torso and blue side panels, to be worn with blue shorts.
The away kit is the real star of the show — I can even forgive that atrocious collar. The kit looks like it just stepped out of 1993, and for that reason I love it, mismatched and askew sleeve stripes and all.