In the lead up to the Autumn Internationals, Rugby Shirt Watch will take a look at the new shirts on display from all the home nations, tell you who's going to look like a dickhead and why, and then answering the immortal question – is it SHIT, or is it GOOD?
Look, there's a massive, angry, shitting elephant in the room regarding this new Wales kit, and honestly, it's overshadowed everything else, but before we get to it let's try and take the shirt on its own merits. Under Armour has a different approach to what other brands are doing in terms of kit design, and where the likes of Canterbury are looking to more classic styles, as we saw with the recent England shirt, UA are unabashedly modern. Fans can be a bit love/hate with more forward thinking stuff, but this design really works.
There are a few things here that make this stand our from the traditional Wales shirt, not least the near-total absence of white. In the last few years, Under Armour Wales shirts have probably gone a bit overboard with the white, really, but here black and dark red are the colours of choice, with the contrast shoulder patches (also seen on this year’s Clermont kits) accented by the ‘dragon’s tail’ motif on the sleeve, which apparently is a nod to Scorch, the WRU's new kid-friendly mascot, who, to us at least, wears a look of a man who's about to make a move on your missus, but that's by the by…
It's pretty dragon-y all over, to be honest, with the front of the shirt adorned Dragon Scale pattern Armour Grip material that’s identical (but not nearly as garish) as the pattern on the sleeves of the current Wales 7s shirt. This shirt also scores top marks for dumping the stupid Under Armour ‘tongue’ on the front of the shirt, which while looking fine with an UA logo on it on Wales's 2011 RWC shirt, looked SHIT with the logo moved to the right breast on the regular model they've been wearing since.
Okay, the shirt's great, but we've ignored it long enough. We've got to talk about the rest of the kit…
Just look at that. No not Leigh Halfpenny's almost comically big quads. The SHORTS. Yup, there's no getting away from it, they're inescapably, utterly, completely RED.
Before the launch, we heard rumours that this massive break with tradition just before the kit launch and we were utterly horrified. Wales play in red shirts, white shorts – they dallied with black at the start of the 2000s (and in the 1970s), and it was generally a disaster, but red? RED!? We had visions of Liverpool, of Toulon, of this fella – it was going to be AWFUL.
And yet… hats off to Under Armour, because we think they’ve done a pretty damn good job. The weird side panel fade thing is probably our least favourite part of the shirt, but when worn with the shorts, the fade from black down to white on the panel of the shorts manages to make it look less blocky and monotone, and actually hits the sweet spot of pushing boundaries without going too far.
Is it going to take some getting used to? Definitely. Is it bold and interesting. Definitely. Does it look good. We have to say, it really does. Top marks.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: GOOD
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