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The Guinness Six Nations Championship kicked off at the weekend and we’ve taken a look at the strips being worn by the countries involved.
Since the turn of the millennium, rugby shirts have developed at a swift rate, away from the classic cotton collared style to figure-hugging stretchable fabric while there has been a lot of experimentation in terms of the layout of teams’ colours.
Of the six teams taking part, only Ireland haven’t tampered with their classic look of green shirts, white shorts and green socks, but this year’s tournament sees a return to what could be termed traditional formats, with only Scotland eschewing white shorts.
While England have never deviated from white shorts, the classic white-topped navy socks have been considered dispensable from time to time but they have been permanent fixtures since Canterbury took over from Nike in 2012.
The main point of interest on the current kit are the miniature St George’s Crosses in red and grey, similar to the Peter Saville-designed England 2012 football kit.
The O2 logo is in the company’s shade of blue while the numbers on the shirts are navy, making the decision to have a charcoal Canterbury logo seem quite odd.
With three of the six countries in the Six Nations wearing blue, the fixtures are arranged so that each of France, Italy and Scotland changes once in the games between them (international rugby still retains the tradition of the home side wearing an alternative kit when a clash occurs).
France are back in Le Coq Sportif for the first time since the early 1980s and they have thankfully restored the tricolore look after adidas and Nike before them used different shades of blue and changed away from white shorts and red socks.
The flag motif on the left sleeve of the shirt is a nice attempt but in reality it looks more Dutch than French. The large placket on the collar may not be to everyone’s tastes but it looks classy from here.
For sevens rugby, LCS have provided France with a different shirt design, one which utilises a large number 7 to split the national colours.
Using the same basic template as England, the torso of the Ireland shirt is jazzed by a mass of tiny triangles in varying shades of green.
Normally, such a feature carries a serious meaning in the accompanying press release, but we haven’t be able to find any so perhaps the Scatter Pattern Brush got jammed on the designer’s software.
Like France, Italy have recently switched from adidas and, pleasingly, they have also teamed up with a new indigenous supplier in Macron.
The national colours of green, white and red are mixed well with the blue, a bit more subtly on the first-choice top, though the tuxedo-like wing collars may not stand to the force of wayward hands in a ruck.
Scotland are also clad in Macron, who have used the SRU’s official tartan as the base for including purple and green trim.
The use of navy shorts and white socks isn’t traditional but isn’t bad in and of itself, however it means that the shorts for the alternative short are largely the same, the only difference being the absence of purple panels and light blue rather than green outline.
While white is often used as a change option for Scotland – they haven’t been afraid to experiment, though – this is light grey, with horizontal shadow stripes the only real difference from the primary design.
Obviously taking their cues from Coventry City in the mid-1990s, Wales’ sponsorship deal sees Isuzu on one shirt with Subaru on the other (Coventry had them the other way round, incidentally).
Wales have been with Under Armour since before the 2015 World Cup and this is a nice, if unspectacular kit, though green might have been a better choice than dark red for the accents.
There’s no word on whether or not the grip tape on the stomach is inspired by the logo of agricultural machinery manufacturer New Holland.