Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Bring on the Clowns

Has anyone seen the new England “rugby” kit? I put the word “rugby” in inverted commas because it doesn’t even come close to resembling what I, or anybody with any sort of tradition in the game, would consider rugby apparel.

In short, it’s an abomination. The shirt is bad enough – it makes the skin-tight RWC 2003 turtle-necked version look positively conservative. This new 2007 design is once again no more than a figure-hugging t-shirt in some horrendous acrylic polyester – but what’s unforgivable is that there’s now a big red swoosh (I can only surmise that this might have something to do with kit manufacturer) which now runs from the top right shoulder and across the stomach area. For pity’s sake, this is the national rugby shirt we’re talking about here, not some cheap knock-off garment from the high street to wear on holiday in Benidorm.

What makes matters even worse is that the big red swoosh appears to extend across onto the player’s shorts, giving the shorts a ludicrous red & white two-tone effect and, if the photo from the cover of the England Rugby 2007 Summer Catalogue is to be believed, the red & white effect appears to be repeated on the players’ socks.

Call me old fashioned, but the overall look is one of a badly designed football kit from the nineteen eighties (and there were plenty of those) or, even worse perhaps, some of the more garish designs on display in Rugby League a few years back. The new England rugby kit is a success only insofar as it manages to achieve the virtually impossible task of making the England football team look sophisticated.

Putting aside the commercial greed that is obviously behind the decision to change the kit design yet again, what on earth were the RFU thinking of in approving this kit? Is there no room for tradition in modern kit design? Looking at the new kit the answer is obviously a resounding “no”. I can excuse, to some extent, the designers themselves – after all the manufacturer of the England kit does not have the tradition in rugby that some of the other well known rugby kit brands possess, but whoever sanctioned this particular design at the RFU needs to be taken to the far end of the West car park at Twickenham and summarily executed.

What, I ask, is wrong with a kit that consists primarily of an all-white shirt with the red rose motif, white shorts and navy blue socks with white tops? OK, I reluctantly accept that advances in modern science demand that the shirts be designed tighter and made from horrible materials, but at least show a bit of class and pay lip service to the traditions of English rugby.

No wonder the players all look so glum on the adverts. Not only is it likely that England will be humiliated on the South African veldt this summer and in the Rugby World Cup this autumn, but they’ll have to suffer such humiliation whilst looking completely ridiculous.

I urge anyone thinking of buying replica kit to support England in the next few months – don’t do it! If you feel the need to wear the colours then search eBay for old designs, buy something unofficial or get knitting – anything to show the RFU that enough is enough.

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