Rugby kits have certainly gone through a few changes since William Webb Ellis first decided to pick up the ball in a game of football back in 1823. Gone are the days of baggy, long-sleeved jerseys. Now, we see highly technical, top-quality kits. However, performance doesn’t always mean they look good.
Over the years, we’ve seen some pretty drab kits and also some brilliant ones. Here at Absolute Rugby, we’ve picked out some of our favourites.
New Zealand All Blacks 2014
This 2014 kit channelled the “All Blacks” name. They produced “the blackest” of blacks for this kit, and the simplicity of the design allows the shade to be the focus. Embossed patterns run through the kit, but they’re incredibly subtle - a great detail!
Australia Wallabies 2017
This Wallabies kit was hugely popular with fans and players alike, with even player Will Genia asking: “Can we wear this every game?”
The striking pattern was designed by a young Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay man and represented the coming together of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. The word wallaby itself originates from the Aboriginal language of the Gadigal people of Eora country, otherwise known as Sydney.
The Wallabies debuted this jersey in a game against the All Blacks in 2017, and it was so well-loved that they brought it back for a game against England in 2018, then adapted the pattern for their Rugby World Cup 2019 alternate shirt. An awesome shirt with an even better message behind it.
France Rugby 7s 2015
This ultra slick jersey was designed for Les Bleus by Adidas, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. In 2015, many rugby 7s teams were straying away from traditional styles, and France also hopped on to that trend. The jagged motif with the red and blue colourway was super eye-catching and stylish, a great kit.
British and Irish Lions 2013
Simple yet effective, the Lions’ 2013 jersey was a real smasher. This kit was for the Lions’ 125th-anniversary tour and featured the traditional collar in a nod to the kit from their 1997 tour of South Africa, which was the Lions’ last series victory at the time.
This jersey’s classic collar, three stripes on the shoulders and overall low profile made it a real hit. Sometimes less is more!
Nike designed this stunning jersey to commemorate 50 years of Los Pumas. In 1965, Argentina toured South Africa and beat the Junior Springboks, they were nicknamed “pumas” by a local journalist, and the name stuck.
Its gorgeous design features the 1965 UAR badge, old-school numbers and no sponsor on the front. It was such a popular design that Nike essentially produced a replica for the team’s Rugby World Cup 2019 kit. A lovely-looking jersey and a fitting celebration of Argentina’s rugby history.
This jersey was a significant change for the Brave Blossoms, but it certainly paid off. Another team inspired by their culture and heritage, this Japanese kit took inspiration from the Samurai. Featuring more angular shapes as opposed to the rounded hoops of former kits, this jersey also saw the hoops highlighted with a metallic gold stripe, which aimed to symbolise the sun cresting over Mount Fuji. There were even three versions of this kit made, one for the front row, one for the second, and one for the backs. Each version had distinguishing features to ensure optimal performance for the players wearing them.
England 2003 World Cup
This one is less to do with design and more to do with this being England’s only Rugby World Cup victory. Playing against Australia, the 2003 squad featured some of England rugby’s most iconic names; Martin Johnson, Matt Dawson and Jonny Wilkinson, whose last-second extra-time drop goal secured England's 20-17 victory.