Springboks’ and All Blacks’ new kit designs create a dazzling stir — just as intended
The Springboks will not only debut a new-look team against the Wallabies this weekend, but they will also reveal their new-look Nike home kit.
Every four years the release of new national rugby jerseys in a World Cup year causes a stir and ignites fierce debate and 2023 is no different.
The Springboks will debut their new Nike-designed home kit for the Rugby Championship against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld this weekend. The kit is, well, green and gold with a traditional collar. It’s inoffensive and cannot be mistaken for anything other than the Boks’ traditional strip.
At Rugby World Cup 2023, which starts in September, the jersey design won’t change much, if at all, but the Springbok emblem will likely move to the sleeve to accommodate RWC logos, as has been the case in the past.
“The classic ‘green and gold’ jersey has been reimagined to include a traditional collar with the underside of the collar giving a nod to the South African flag. As an acknowledgement of the team’s spirit, the phrase “Stronger Forever” is inscribed on the inside collar,” trumpeted the media release.
The alternative kit though, has caused a stir. It’s a white jersey with a green/blue zig-zag pattern. Actually, it’s neither green nor blue, but ‘hyper jade’ according to Nike. Whatever that is.
Hyper jade or not (who can argue the point?), the jersey will be debuted by the senior Springboks against Argentina in Buenos Aires later this month. It could lead to an interesting clash of kits if the Pumas wear their traditional light blue and white stripes.
But the jersey could be debuted sooner — by the Junior Boks against Ireland in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship semi-final on 9 July.
Apparently, the Irish Rugby Football Union are unhappy with South Africa’s alternate kit though, and when the senior sides clash in Paris on 23 September at RWC 2023, the Boks will wear all white if they are the designated ‘away’ team.
“The bold new alternate jersey pays homage to the local culture through the patterned print and the colourway was inspired by and celebrates, the hues of the local nature,” we’re told. Hyper jade being a common shade in nature apparently.
Marketing gumph aside, it’s a bold departure and no more offensive/inoffensive depending on your view, as the all-orangey/red kit the Boks wore for a one-off Test in Argentina in 2017.
“We involved the senior team leadership group in the approval process, and they were immediately appreciative of what Nike were trying to achieve in design and construction,” said SA Rugby CEO Rian Oberholzer.
“We are looking forward to seeing the jerseys in action over the coming weeks, including the alternate jersey which will make its debut in Buenos Aires next month.”
Silver ferns everywhere
Last week, when New Zealand Rugby (NZR) revealed the All Blacks’ upcoming jersey with 14 silver fern motifs scribbled across it, it drew a wide range of opinions — mostly negative.
The marketing spiel attached to the latest team jersey is always creative. According to the All Blacks’ media release the ferns point inwards “to create the ‘USO’ mark; a Samoan term meaning brother, in honour of the bond between the All Blacks”.
The multiple ferns detailed across the main shirt represent the “diversity and differing experience” of the squad — with the national emblem on the breast becoming the 15th.
And because the tournament is being played in France and Les Blues are in the All Blacks’ pool, NZR called in some French flair in the design process.
The Adidas-made kit, was designed by a French street artist known as Fey the Wolf, who is “renowned for his use of the colour black.”
Ignoring the fact that black is technically a hue, or a shade, and not a colour, it led to one upset Kiwi remarking, “The French will go to any lengths to beat us at this World Cup.”
Fey the Wolf, though, took a different view: “There is no more iconic jersey in sport, so it was an incredible privilege to be entrusted with reimagining it for this moment.
“Central to my approach was to encapsulate what the fern means to New Zealanders of all backgrounds and to help, I was lucky enough to spend time with members of the squad, which provided valuable insight.
“What stood out to me most, is the sense of guardianship. That the jersey is never owned but passed on to create a continuous line.”
The jury seems to be out, however, on whether some sort of line was crossed with this design. DM