Russ has just sent me a shot of the latest team Ireland rugby shirt and instead of O2 on the front, it shows O f*ck. I bet you’ve all seen it by now. But it started me thinking. Is it just me or are the new range of shirts worn by the sides in the RWC just garish and uninspiring? First off all those very big blokes in really clinging outfits is not a good look. I should know. Not all the guys are cut like Ricky Hatton at fight time; some of those front rows still look a bit like Ricky Tomlinson and tight ain’t right.
I know Nike et al have introduced all these high-tech features like sweat panels, cooling panel, no grab collars and the like which aids performance by 0.8% or something, but when you’re playing crap like most of the home nations are doing, does it matter that much? Come on be honest fellahs. There was no more fearsome sight in rugby (Lomu apart) than Dean Richards standing there with his socks at half mast, sleeves half rolled up, collar almost torn off, a big tear in his shirt, with a splattering of blood across his chest (usually someone else’s). He didn’t give a frig for not-grip panels.
And another thing, hardly any of the shirts seem to be anywhere near the recognised colour. The Ireland shirt seems to be an amalgam of various shades of insipid green. What happened to the proud solid green shirt that could so terrorise opponents because of what it stood for. Now it looks like a pea and avocado salad. No wonder there’s no passion. And what on earth is the Scotland shirt supposed to represent. It looks like a Man City away shirt, all light blues and greys. When they played NZ sporting their dreadful silver kit, it was almost impossible to tell the teams apart. Don’t tell me that Scotland shirt is supposed to symbolise the flag of St Andrew and the spirit of William Wallace. It looks more like a frigging barbeque shirt now.
And what about the English and French kits with their bold slashes? What on earth do England look like – what’s a good collective noun (a ziggy?) for – a bunch of David Bowies, in his Aladdin Zane period. Not exactly a fearsome image. The French shirt traditionally of course so brilliantly, gloriously blue that the team became known as Les Bleus has been fundamentally changed. It’s now a very dark blue (almost Scots deep) with a slightly lighter blue slash a l’England shirt/shorts combo. The reason? So that when they played the New Zealanders in the final, as hosts they’d be regarded as the home team and because of the potential colour clash could insist on the Kiwis changing from their traditional all black kit to something less formidable-looking. See it does matter.
Well that plan’s f*cked up now. I’d like to think the All Blacks get first shout on kit colour as winners of their Group in the QF now and that France end up wearing lilac or something equally appalling from the Nike colour range. Did it bother Les Bleus of ’99? Of course not they just went out and mullahed the best team on the planet, Lomu and all, with the audacity of their play. Now they approach the whole tournament with the mindset of Chanel when it should be Chabal. I hope they get royally Lacroix-ed.
The best national shirt in the RWC then? Well I reckon it’s the Argentina team shirt. It’s not so baggy as in earlier years, the material’s lighter and the collar is grandad shirt-style but it’s your basic light blue and white hoops. No deep purple slashes from shoulder to knee cap, no Joseph-style multi-coloured panels just a simple traditional statement of the Argentine nation. And guess what, not only do they look bloody proud to wear that shirt, they are playing like men possessed. Is there a link? I’d put my bloody white shirt on it.