Saturday night’s meeting of Ireland and South Africa at Stade de France has the potential to be one of the best games of the pool stage of the Rugby World Cup.
South Africa, the competition’s holders, are ranked second in the world, only behind Ireland, who are seeking to go beyond the quarter-finals for the first time.
The two countries are the only top-tier international sides that wear green jerseys as their first choice – Ireland usually in emerald with South Africa favouring a darker shade, trimmed in a rich gold hue. This will be the first time that they will have met in the World Cup.
In this edition of the competition, greater care has been taken in terms of kit-clashing – for instance, Ireland wore white against the red of Tonga last week due to colour-blindness considerations.
Historically, an Ireland-South Africa match-up wouldn’t have presented a problem from a kit point of view, with both teams having white shirts as a back-up option.
However, modern times have seen designs become more busy. South Africa’s change jerseys in white and hyper-jade – already worn against Scotland – were used against Ireland in the U20 World Championship (with white shorts). Given the wider audience this weekend, they are considered by World Rugby not to provide enough differentiation against the Ireland strip.
One might question why, given the draw was made three years ago, they couldn’t have ensured a better second kit but then the countries’ last two meetings, both in Dublin, saw Ireland in poorly-considered colours, given the opposition – 2017 and 2022.
The solution is for the Springbooks to wear another alternative set – essentially the same as the change shirts but without the torso design or the contrasting sleeves.
It’s a solution that calls to mind the alterations to the France away kit for Euro 2016.