2018 Super Rugby fashion review

Harry Jones Roar Guru

By Harry Jones, Harry Jones is a Roar Guru

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87 Have your say

    Clothes maketh the man.

    Ten Super Rugby teams’ jerseys are reviewed in this sartorial preview.

    The Brumbies are going back to 1996, the Chiefs are telling us a story of triangular threats, the cool-collar Stormers got no hoops and no roots, the Sharks put City Hall on their boring strip, the Bulls are pacific blue with fade piping numerology, the bridesmaid Lions put Joburg on their backs and put the fancy back in hoops, the Hurricanes’ wind motif is abstract and diagonal without cyclone force and an electric-washed away jersey, the Crusaders have subtle swords and optical illusions but more bloody than last year, the Highlanders have softened their tartan but neonised their visiting strip to Miami levels, and the amazing Sunwolves have added psychedelic sun and brooding moon and wild stars and garish waterfalls in their garish new avant-garde jersey designed to induce interceptions and charge-downs.

    What is each of the teams saying to us with their costume?

    The Brumbies
    Canberra is saying to the Australian conference: “We want to go back. Back to 1996. No deconstruction. No reinterpretation. No two ways. No irony.”

    Their ‘gold’ of the last few years is burned back to a dark orange.

    The white base of the home jersey is no frills, workmanlike, Kearnsey-craftsman. As the players sweat, even props will be flattered by the colour-blocked shoulders and rib-cage lines.

    No sexiness, except a little too scoop on the neck, to show a little cleavage by socially-conscious flankers.

    The away jersey is not complicated: it is an exact reverse.

    “Here we are, again. You know what we will do. But we will try to do it well. You might be bored, but you almost might be beaten.”


    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    The Chiefs
    “We are telling a story. No, we are telling ten stories, at once. We have an ethos, a heritage, a future, a past, bays of plenty, and caves running deep. We are a shark. No, a warrior. Fluid and dynamic, but fixed in time. We are triangles, facing threats on all sides. Run or kick or pass; we are pointed and ready. But our backs are calm. We are greenstone treasures, too.”

    The 2018 Chiefs are incoherently cohering to a script forged in the rough gravel pits of Taranaki, the turning rivers of tacklers raising cane, and the hammerheads of sharks.

    Fire up your bongs and watch ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway; then the Chiefs’ wardrobe makes more sense. Their jerseys are straight up Improv drama.

    Triangular patterns on the back of the home jersey, green patterns on the white base of the away jersey, with a fractylised scheme.

    They’ll run from anywhere, play any style, and be bold. And sweat will not hurt this look. In fact, the more they sweat, the better this style looks.

    The Stormers
    Cape Town rugby’s pinnacle has always been the black shorts and the not-too-slender blue-and-white hoops and red accents of Western Province, or ‘Prooooooooovince.’

    The Stormers seem obsessed with being a different province, not too provincial.

    So, they are veering to an NFL-style departure from WP tradition.

    The horrendous canary DHL logo disrupts what could be a nice-enough flow of red, white and blue, which distinguishes itself from Cape hoops by using ‘panels’ of blue and white on the rib-cages of the players.

    In 2018, black is mostly banished from the home jersey, but the away strip is red-and-black only.

    The Stormer logo looks like a dollar sign, and the whole mess is a bit flea market bazaar, which is a pity, because WP has the rugby-est rugby strip of any club in the Hemisphere.

    Still, the collar is beautiful. The Stormers will not be irritated by faux collars or Brumbie-style decolletage. It’s simple, strong, reinforced, and manly.

    “We are really professional. We really are. We lost our stadium, we are bankrupt, run by crooks, coached by an old boy, and we have a brutal pack who don’t like collars.”

    The Sharks
    For a team with the sauciest cheerleaders in the competition, the Sharks’ jerseys are straight up yawn-worthy. Home: black. Away: white. That’s it.

    Well, a tiny Zulu shield that’s invisible on TV. And a subtle rendition of … City Hall?! Ah, that will fire up the du Preez brothers! God, King, Country, and Parking Tickets.

    The only good news from the Sharks’ fashionistas is a Superhero jersey, to be used in a few games: the big boys from Durban will have red piping around each of their 12 abdominal muscle packs.

    Maybe they should just pretend to be Vincent Koch or Jean Deysel and play topless: that’s the motif of the city, anyway.

    “We are sober. We play in the right areas. We believe in black-and-white rugby. But Curwin Bosch is a superhero.”

    The Bulls
    For some reason, the bully boys from the hard lands of the High Veld love to dress metro.

    The Bulls will sport the lightest sky-blue in history, with fade piping and soft white bands like pillows in the nicest hotel bed. Pacifist jerseys for an increasingly pacifist pack.

    The numbers 201818 are sprayed gently across the chest of the jersey. No, this is not the password to Handre Pollard’s medicine cabinet. The Bulls are 80 years old in 2018.

    So, a club crest is back, on this incredibly amicable, amiable rugby jersey.

    “We want to transform. We are transformed. We are trans-everything.”

    The Lions
    The Lions are Super Rugby’s ‘almost’ team.

    They almost won, twice in a row. They almost kept their coach. They almost have hoops.

    Why ‘almost?’ Hoops are hoops, no?

    Well, when you add little tiny fancy edge to each hoop, like fin-de-siecle ceilings in Paris, you are unhooping your hoops.

    Good: it’s clearly red and white, and the away strip is an exact palette swap.

    Bad: the skyline of Joburg is still on the jersey, strangely cheapening the look (but at least it’s on the back, now).

    “We are almost there. Almost.”

    The Hurricanes
    “Windy winds wind Wellington winters wildly.”

    The capital city’s rugby team is even more yellow than ever, and wind is still the motif, but this year, the raw destructive power of a supercell storm is softened into a diagonal tonal wind pattern, which should look sloppy when the Canes sweat. I think. I haven’t seen a sweaty version, yet.

    The away strip is washed out 1980s anthem rock band black, with electric yellow wind abstractions.

    “We don’t really care about jerseys. Let’s just score a helluva lot of points, miss a tonne of kicks, and dress like Chris Boyd.”

    The Crusaders
    This team likes to remind you of blood.

    So, the home jersey is bloody, even bloodier than last year. A sword stabs the stomach of the home jersey, in an optical illusion.

    The away jersey is mostly white; presumably the colour of funeral shrouds for the victims of their home stabbings.

    A stripey silver pattern (in place of the swords) should work well with sweat.

    They will train in hot pink.

    “We are not the nicest guys, but we will give you a proper burial.”

    Crusaders Israel Dagg runs after the ball

    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    The Highlanders
    “At home, we are great. Away, we are rubbish.”

    The Celtic band and tartan of the 2018 home jersey of the Highlanders might be the best in the competition. Quite simply, it’s beautiful.

    It’s a real rugby classic.

    But the neon green of the away jersey is straight up highway maintenance.

    What were they thinking?

    The Sunwolves
    “We are the mystical sunlight of nature’s loving moons; we scrum as if in a waterfall, and our garryowens are so high, our jerseys look like heroin on fire.”

    I have no idea what is going on with this design, but … I … absolutely … adore … it.

    I think these gumbo-like jerseys will make the lame walk, and the blind see.

    Also, it’s possible that opposing teams will contract a contagion of vertigo.

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    The Crowd Says (87)

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2017 @ 2:59am
      Kia Kaha said | December 21st 2017 @ 2:59am | ! Report

      Love your work, Harry.

      Thanks for all your contributions this year and wishing you all the festive best.

      By the way, the Crusaders fittingly have the bloodiest of jerseys as they are mercilessly the bloodthirstiest of all the Super teams. Even the Reds’ jersey looks anaemic alongside the Crusaders, even when they’re playing in their away strip.

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2017 @ 6:18am
      taylorman said | December 21st 2017 @ 6:18am | ! Report

      Nice Harry, typical of the Blues to not even make this list huh?

      But I sure wish we could go back to 96!

      All the best for the new, and festive, season?

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2017 @ 6:28am
        Harry Jones said | December 21st 2017 @ 6:28am | ! Report


        I’ll cover the Blues, the Jaguares, and other Aussie jerseys in my sequel.

        Spoiler alert: the Blues are blue and the Reds are maroon.

        • December 21st 2017 @ 7:41am
          Adsa said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:41am | ! Report

          Reds are maroon, music to this tragics ears.

          • Roar Guru

            December 21st 2017 @ 9:12am
            Harry Jones said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

            The red was getting too red

          • December 21st 2017 @ 12:16pm
            ethan said | December 21st 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

            Sadly, I think the Maroon may just be a once off thing like last year. Could be wrong, but the website is calling it our “heritage” jersey, with the standard issue red being “home” jersey. I don’t see any away jersey though, so perhaps “home” also means “away”, or perhaps maroon will get a few more outings this year. They look good in a simple way though. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

            • Roar Guru

              December 21st 2017 @ 11:21pm
              Harry Jones said | December 21st 2017 @ 11:21pm | ! Report

              I’ll cover the maroon reds next!

        • December 21st 2017 @ 9:25am
          taylorman said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

          Marooned? πŸ™‚

      • December 21st 2017 @ 8:44am
        Rugby Tragic said | December 21st 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        Don’t worry TM, we will just fly under the radar in 2018….

        • Roar Guru

          December 21st 2017 @ 9:12am
          Harry Jones said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

          Good way to crash into tall buildings

          • December 21st 2017 @ 9:26am
            taylorman said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

            We dont have tall buildings in NZ Harry…a few tall poppies though…

            • Roar Guru

              December 22nd 2017 @ 3:03am
              Harry Jones said | December 22nd 2017 @ 3:03am | ! Report


              I bungi-jumped off a seriously tall building in Auckland…

        • December 23rd 2017 @ 2:58pm
          ThugbyFan said | December 23rd 2017 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

          G’day Tragic, may the beer, vino and merriment flow aplenty for you and family over the holidays. And as they say in Game of Thrones (a million times/episode) “Winter is Coming” which means RUGBY is back. Yeahhhhh!

          Now that Aussie rugby has applied the scalpel to itself, any bets on whether the kiwi SR2018 teams will go 27-zip again against their lil Aussie brothers?

          And I guess you must have the blues, I just read that George Moala has signed a 3 year deal with the Frog club Clermont. I guess he reasoned that his AB days are over with so much talent in front of the AB pecking order.

          • December 28th 2017 @ 6:42pm
            Rugby Tragic said | December 28th 2017 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

            Hiya Thugby … and same back to you … hope you had a goodie.

            No, not about to commit to a 27 (or whatever) to zip scoreline and tbh, I hope that does not happen. Of course good, even great to win but scoreline like 2017 is not good for the code in either country.

            As for Blues …. like the proverbial idiot (or masochist that I must be!), I will support them in 2018 … I suppose I’ll even pay up for my membership again too … Oh well ,,,

            The biggest disappointment for me was losing Steven Luatua, who I had followed since his MAGS days … Big Charlie is a loss too whereas George Moala has seen the writing on the wall as far as his AB aspirations are concerned. There are plenty in NZ chasing a midfield position for 2019.

            I know Geoff Parkes always has me on about my support of Luatua but I note in his book “A World in Union Conflict”, the very high regard the AB selectors hold the player in … (I also note he is possibly open to a contract extension with Bristol all ready, if they do not he will come back to the Blues .. but realistically Bristol will not let him go!) …

            By the way if you haven’t read Geoff Parkes book … grab yourself a copy … very enlightening stuff, well researched. You being a suffering fan I know will enjoy it …

    • Columnist

      December 21st 2017 @ 6:38am
      Nicholas Bishop said | December 21st 2017 @ 6:38am | ! Report

      Brilliant Harry…

      But the neon green of the away jersey is straight up highway maintenance.

      I think that bit was the piece de resistance, as JPG would say πŸ™‚

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2017 @ 7:19am
      Harry Jones said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      Cheers, NicBish.

      Which Aviva strip is your favourite?

      • Columnist

        December 21st 2017 @ 8:01am
        Nicholas Bishop said | December 21st 2017 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        Saints away, for sheer garish highway maintenance value (lime green) πŸ™‚

        • December 21st 2017 @ 9:28am
          Ken Cropper said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

          NH teams generally have more advertising on them than a double decker bus

        • Roar Guru

          December 22nd 2017 @ 3:04am
          Harry Jones said | December 22nd 2017 @ 3:04am | ! Report

          Ha ha!

          I like Wasps…

          • Roar Guru

            December 23rd 2017 @ 1:49am
            Harry Jones said | December 23rd 2017 @ 1:49am | ! Report

            NB, I also really like Bath’s uniforms.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 4:40pm
        cuw said | December 21st 2017 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

        got to be the QUINS coz i think it has not changed much – like for maybe 20 years !!!

    • Columnist

      December 21st 2017 @ 7:39am
      Geoff Parkes said | December 21st 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      β€œWe are not the nicest guys, but we will give you a proper burial.”

      That’s a winner’s ethos if I ever saw one. Great stuff Harry.

      I’m with Vincent Koch though. Keep it simple, just like when we were kids. Skins v shirts.

      • December 21st 2017 @ 8:18am
        Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | December 21st 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        Skin, Geoff?
        Skin was for wimps.

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2017 @ 9:14am
        Harry Jones said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        Thanks, GP.

        The Rebels have a cool strip; reminiscent of mid-level Kiwi clubs…

        To be continued …

      • December 21st 2017 @ 4:43pm
        cuw said | December 21st 2017 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

        he had nothing on DEYSEL tho – who looked like a BROC LESNER clone πŸ™‚

        funny thing was , i think someone else lost the shorts in that maul along with Koch , but due to the long black Lycra it went unnoticed πŸ˜›

        • Roar Guru

          December 21st 2017 @ 11:22pm
          Harry Jones said | December 21st 2017 @ 11:22pm | ! Report

          That was an orgy maul

    • December 21st 2017 @ 8:20am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | December 21st 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      Great piece Harry.
      A load of gems in that one.
      The ‘not the nicest guys -proper burial’ line equally applicable to ABs.

      Merry Christmas to all

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2017 @ 9:16am
        Harry Jones said | December 21st 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        ABs are the undertakers of the rugby world. Retallick looks already embalmed.

        • December 21st 2017 @ 12:32pm
          Jacko said | December 21st 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

          Adams family in disguise

        • December 21st 2017 @ 4:45pm
          cuw said | December 21st 2017 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

          yes – who else makes black look like dope ? only undertakers and all blacks πŸ˜›

      • December 21st 2017 @ 12:24pm
        ethan said | December 21st 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        Oh but ABs are also the nicest guys, don’t you know?! They are just humble shepherds, who win at rugby and win at manners. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.

        • Roar Rookie

          December 21st 2017 @ 12:25pm
          piru said | December 21st 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report


          now go in peace my son and sin no more

        • Roar Guru

          December 21st 2017 @ 12:26pm
          Diggercane said | December 21st 2017 @ 12:26pm | ! Report


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