Ranking the Top 20 Kits in World Rugby

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMay 2, 2014

Ranking the Top 20 Kits in World Rugby

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    Rugby may not have a reputation for being the most glamorous of sports by its perceived stereotypes, but, in the modern game, even the brutes of today can invest in fashionable interests.

    The professional era has seen sides move far away from the loose, scraggy-collared kits of days gone by. For the large part, the kits have been replaced by slicker, more fitted works of fashion, art and technology in some instances, all rolled into one.

    Here, we've ranked the very best stripscurrently in world rugby, taking union, league and sevens into account in order to develop as comprehensive a rundown as possible.

    For international teams, the most recent kit to be circulated has been used as their example, and each club has been limited to just one entry.

20. Ireland's Home

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    Simple and to the point, Ireland's regular green and white jersey doesn't bother with any unnecessary bells or whistles, much like the team that dons it.

    The reigning Six Nations champions are nearing the end of their sponsorship deal with Puma, with ESPN Scrum announcing that Canterbury are soon to be taking charge of the iconic ensemble.

    The current kit will be the last that Brian O'Driscoll will ever be seen in as a player, and it's a good thing that the no-frills strip looks good enough to do justice to the player.

19. Barbarians'

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    The Barbarians are unbending in tradition, and though the colour of the socks may change depending on the origins of the players comprised in their line-up, the rest of their uniform barely changes year to year.

    As ever, black and white stripes are the motif of their jersey, and it's a difficult design to get wrong with neutral colours that even the most fashion-negligent can pull off.

    Cotton Traders are once again the manufacturer responsible for crafting such a fine item of apparel, with the only modern adaptation being the shortened, circular collar that doesn't look half bad at all.

18. Hurricanes' Home

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    Yellow is far from the easiest colour base to make work, even for the most learned designer, but the Hurricanes can be thankful that Adidas have done such a fine job handling their wares.

    Stars such as Conrad Smith, Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea and Alapati Leiua have all dazzled in the BNZ-sponsored kit this season, which is well contrasted by the black shorts and deep blue touch-ups throughout.

17. Wigan Warriors' Home

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    One of only two Super League outfits to have made our countdown, Wigan Warriors have chosen to go with the tried and tested route this season.

    Following the double-winning campaign of 2013, the Challenge Cup champions are again decked out in their classic red and white stripes, with only a belly sponsor to break up the otherwise traditional colour scheme.


16. Argentina Sevens' Home

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    Sevens rugby generally doesn't attract the biggest audiences when compared with their league and union cousins, but some of the participating nations make it their business to inject some flair into their outfits.

    Argentina have stepped away from their usual confines of sky blue and white stripes that the majority of their national teams wear, instead opting for a more unique orange and white, slanted approach.

    The colours take their inspiration from Argentina's national flower, the ceibo, and what a beautiful piece of horticulture it must be. 

15. France's Home

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    France's 2014 Six Nations came undone at the very last hurdle, with Philippe Saint-Andre's side going down at the hands of Ireland in front of a Parisian crowd.

    But at least Les Bleus went down in style, their ever so subtly multishaded blue number broken up tastefully by the red and yellow of the cockerel that sits on their crest, and the red, blue and white of their national flag running down the sleeve stripes.

    Adidas have also thrown in a pretty attractive collar, which isn't quite flowing enough to be called old-fashioned, but is also reminiscent of the uniforms of days gone by. 

14. Stade Francais' Alternate

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    And from the national team to the side who will on occasion play their home games in Paris' Stade de France, we have the always eccentric Stade Francais.

    One can bet that the capital club will make a run at a list of this variety just about every year, with innovative fashion statement after innovative fashion statement coming from their design table season upon season.

    This time around, the club's alternate kit is black, adorned with pink stripes and again featuring a floral design, as has become a form of tradition in Paris.

13. Italy's Alternate

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    It might be a mother's nightmare to wash on a Saturday afternoon, but Italy's white alternate kit this season is sublime, even if their on-pitch results aren't quite up to the same standards.

    There's nothing more patriotic than a kit which is comprised solely of one's flag colours, and the green and red of the Azzurri's details fits oh so well onto their plain, white foundation.

12. Highlanders' Alternate

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    This may go down as something of a love/hate selection, but we think the Highlanders' green away strip is a fine piece of clothing.

    Like France's jersey, this sample shows a subtle contrast in shades on the main body of the shirt, while the white decals and more traditional navy of the shorts really make the whole thing come together nicely.

    It seems to be doing the franchise well, too, as the New Zealand outfit have impressed for good stretches of their 2014 season.

11. Leeds Rhinos' Alternate

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    Rugby league is regarded as an extremely demanding, physical and masculine sport, but even the elite of that trade can show their softer side from time to time.

    Such might well be said of Leeds Rhinos' alternate kit this season, which features literal splashes of pink and blue upon a black base in what looks like something Neil Buchanan of Art Attack may have crafted.

10. Parramatta Eels' Alternate

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    Only two National Rugby League teams have managed to squeeze their way onto our fashion runway, and the Parramatta Eels are one such candidate.

    The club have essentially decided to make the logical choice that most clubs take and flip their mainly blue home strip with yellow detailing inside out for their kit clashes.

    Sharing some tips with Leeds Rhinos perhaps, we'd have to say the colours look better in for the Sydney-based club this time around, with the touches of white upon the shirt sponsor and crest adding a needed third dimension.

9. Argentina's Home

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    Although we've mentioned Argentina's decision to shift toward a more exciting approach for their sevens kit, we didn't say there was anything wrong with the classic blue and white design.

    This year, Nike have, like in the sevens, looked at things in a literally diagonal sense, turning the stripes that usually run horizontally ever so slightly on their side, and it's the simplest touch that does a world of modernising.

    Strangely enough, part of the appeal in this strip actually comes from the VISA belly sponsor, spelt out in a pleasing font style and, more importantly, splashing a darker navy onto the very innocent white and baby blue.

8. Munster's Alternate

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    One of Europe's most decorated clubs, Munster have something of a responsibility to ensure they look good every season, for they're always sure to challenge for top honours, both foreign and domestically.

    This season, it's their alternate kit we like best, with the Limerick outfit once again going with navy as the primary colour of their Adidas-made get-up.

    It wouldn't be Munster unless some red were visible, so the club added just a hint along their collar, but it's the white and navy of the main torso that catches the eye this year.

7. England Sevens' Home

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    Canterbury have really pulled off a piece of magic with England's 2013-14 sevens uniform, which is rather unique in both the way the jersey's been made, as well as the colour scheme.

    Moving their logo up onto the right shoulder and the national crest into the centre of the chest, the design may inspire other manufacturers to start thinking outside the box more.

    The triangles you see on the shirt aren't just a random assortment of shapes, either, but are actually a pixelated image of the English rose, symbolising the DNA of the country being represented on the very kit itself.

6. New Zealand's Home

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    Like the Barbarians, the aptly named All Blacks are unsurprisingly a nation where little ever changes in the make-up of their home kit, which they seldom have to change out of thanks to a shortage of nations who wear black at the top level.

    But the most recent design has again been given a lease of new life thanks to a sleeker collar that seems to almost mould around the wearer's neckline, along with an extremely simplistic AIG belly sponsor.

    No prizes for guessing what slimming colour makes up the shorts and socks, too.

5. Waikato Chiefs' Home

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    The Chiefs have returned to defend their 2013 Super Rugby title with a kit that hasn't changed an awful lot since last year, but is nonetheless beautiful to behold.

    So vibrant and illustrated are the detailed sketchings of the abdominal area, inspired by "Maori themes of Kotiate (black part), Awa (flowing yellow part) and Ara Poutama (red background)," as per NewRugbyKits.com, that one would be tempted never to go to ground just in a bid to prevent damage.

4. Sydney Roosters' Home

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    Sonny Bill Williams isn't the sort of personality who settles for second best in his game, so it's not a huge shock that the Sydney Roosters have the most attractive strip in the NRL.

    Like any league jersey these days, the design clings to the skin like thermal wear, and were the Adonis-like stars of the trade not in such good nick, the outfit may not look quite so superb.

    The red and white neckline comes to a sudden stop in the middle of the chest, encountering a navy skyline illustration, with the white shorts topping the whole look off.

    According to the Sydney Roosters' official online shop, the kit also has "digitally sublimated sponsor logos for durability."

    Good thing, too.

3. Exeter Chiefs' Home

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    Like their New Zealand namesakes, the Exeter Chiefs 2013-14 isn't far off the Waikato edition, featuring a similar tribal design that reaches up from the hips and into the centre of the jersey.

    There's no other team in the Aviva Premiership who can boast a jersey quite as iconic as the Chiefs this season, with the cherokee imprints providing a very literal impression of the club itself.

    Of course, the colour scheme works in fine fashion as well, with the white applications on the blue and black design giving an almost metallic sheen to areas of the jersey.

2. Auckland Blues' Home

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    The Auckland Blues are another New Zealand outfit who have chosen to do anything but abandon their roots, using emblems that represent their thriving population of Polynesian people, the highest of any region.

    Though it's not reflected in the attached image, the inside of the neckline also features the names of all those domestic provinces that make up the Blues franchise (Northland, North Harbour, Auckland to name a few).

    Adidas have done a fine job of building a kit that's easy on the eyes, using white alongside a variety of soft blues to engineer a terrific statement that also has a message behind it.

1. Crusaders' Alternate

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    Tough as granite, and mentally resolute as one of Super Rugby's longest-standing giants, the Crusaders have gone with a chain mail armour look in this season's endeavours.

    And what better way to really put the point of chain mail across than to make the away strip a deep, cobalt grey that looks as if it may just hurt more to tackle any player lucky enough to be shielded by it.

    What really makes the kit pop is the red and white shorts that Adidas have chosen to stick with, while white socks with a black and red trim round off the trifecta of well-put-together colouring.