Scottish Rugby News and Opinion

First XV

How often is too often for a new Scotland Rugby Shirt?

Scotland Rugby Shirts
Scotland Rugby Shirts - pic courtesy SRU/Macron

On the 5th of July 2016, Italian sportswear manufacturer Macron released the latest Scotland Rugby Shirt. It may have slipped by relatively unnoticed for most outside of Scotland, however a precedent had been set.

For the first time in Scottish Rugby’s history, the Scotland Home Shirt had been released with just over a one year gap since its predecessor: an annual release. The garment makers studied a melange of player sizes to ascertain how a dress shirt should fit and only then went ahead with making the shirt. That’s the sort of thing we often see from our cousins in football, but until now a rarity.

The official release date for the Scotland Rugby World Cup 2015 shirts was the 3rd of July 2015, giving that jersey a lifespan of just 368 days (2016 is a leapyear!).

Supporters of the game are still getting used to the commercialisation of rugby – something the game needs especially across the nations participating in the Guinness Pro12 where the TV rights money just isn’t that of in England and France – but that’s perhaps a story for another time.

Up to this point, Scotland home rugby kits were pretty regularly released on a two year rolling basis, ensuring plenty of value for money for any punter getting their hands on the shirt early.

Canterbury, who held the Scotland kit contract from 2000 to 2013, through the dawn of professional rugby, stuck religiously to a biennial cycle for every home shirt, with an alternate shirt released annually. The Scotland Away top does tend to be more sporadic and altogether more out-there. Who remembers this monstrosity from 2012 – although it was a top seller.

And then there was the pre-professional era. Historically we have had relatively plain navy shirts from brands like Umbro, Pringle and Cotton Oxford. If there was any brand associated at all it was often tricky to spot, and no shirt sponsors either at least until the Famous Grouse came along!

Scotland Rugby Shirt Timeline
Scotland Rugby Shirt Timeline

So why two new shirts again this season?

We can only assume that Macron are having to up the ante, with the rumoured “multi-million pound” contract signed with Scottish Rugby needing to be earned back somehow. The contract does include both Edinburgh and Glasgow who also have new kits out, but I think it’s fair to assume that the Scotland Home shirt is the main cash cow, and it is certainly being given a run for its money!

A word of warning for any manufacturer though – English fans were left angered by Canterbury of New Zealand in 2015, when a conveyor belt’s worth of rugby shirts were released prior to RWC 2015, a total of six in just 10 months. Quite a wallet-stretching exercise for anyone wanting to keep up with the latest kit. Not to mention confusing for the casual fan.

We’ve compiled a few opinions here at First XV of how we would like to see things done…

Adam (35, retired prop): I am quite traditional so would definitely like to see the home shirt renewed only every second year. It just gives everyone a fair chance to get use out of the shirt. Do you what you want with the Away shirt, make it pink if you like, but just keep the home shirt traditional in design and every two years.

Andy (32, a swimmer): As well as a rugby fan, I’m also a big follower of American Football. In the NFL, jerseys don’t change much year on year, other than minor aesthetic tweaks. The only time major updates are made are every five years, or when the league changes kit manufacturer. It means fans don’t have to splash out every 12 months to keep up to date with the latest shirt, and gives the kit the respect it deserves.

Lee (40, ex-winger): New home top and away top every two years alternately, gives some interest every year. The exception to the rule being the World Cup, get a new home and away top out for that.

Duncan (22, fly-half): Change is good, get a new home top out every year, keeps it interesting. So looks like there is no right answer that will please everyone here. The cost of supporting your national team is certainly on the rise. When First XV opened 15 years ago your average rugby shirt was £50, now we are looking in excess of £60 for most replica shirts, or even higher if you like to go for the skin tight player’s look. However it is great to see Scottish Rugby announcing at the recent AGM that the financials have never looked better, a situation no Scotland fan will find ground for complaint.

So what’s your opinion? Will you be wearing a new shirt to cheer on the team in the Autumn? Let us know in the comments below. And check out our banner on this page for an exclusive discount code!

8 Responses

  1. I won’t be buying any of these new shirts, for myself or anyone else, unless much younger members of my family make my life a misery by clamouring for them. Wearing the latest national jersey to a Test feels uncomfortably footie -like. When my brothers and friends go on tour each year, we wear our own custom-designed tour rugby shirts. At some other Scotland games – like last year’s RWC QF for instance – I will wear a now very faded replica of the original navy blue with just a thistle on the breast. If I knew how much money from each shirt was earned by the SRU and then recycled into development of the game at all levels in Scotland, I might change my mind. Can you or the SRU tell us that, Adam?

    1. John, I really enjoy the range of shirts you see at games. Especially the faded old plain blues. Mine from 91 now looks like a France shirt but I love it

  2. My problem with the revolving door of shirt launches is that there is only so much you can do with a shirt. For a case in point the Glasgow kit over the last couple of years has been done quite tastefully, with understated nods to the city and the district clubs. This year the front panel of the away strip is awful – Wee Willie Warrior keekin’ oot at the world from the top of the players shorts is not the classiest of looks. If the designers couldn’t come up with a decent design, then leave it alone for a year, even 2

    There is even a website which reviews and critiques new rugby shirts simply in terms of their design appeal. What the fu…..????

  3. Sorry John, I do not have that piece of data, I assume it would be very hard for the SRU you to calculate. It would be good to know though.

    Yes Ade, a rather unfortunate bit of design work an the Glasgow Away shirt this year, think that is a prime case of get off the computer and see what something looks like in the real world. It will be a memorable one though!

  4. I think relatively rapid shirt changes to try to maximise revenue fits the wider picture of an SRU caught between awareness that money contributes to success and that success can be fleeting. Sadly I think the SRU are grossly insensitive to the fans opinions. The ticketing policy makes it nigh on impossible for fans far from Edinburgh to attend 6N games under the packaging policy; promoting resale via viagogo is tantamount to sanctioning touting…Go back to the system of a new home shirt & away shirt alternate years and try not to alienate fans.

  5. It does not bother me one bit them changing the shirts every year, the reason being is that it is not compulsory to buy them.

    I have got the fairly classic navy Scotland top which will never go out of fashion. I did liker the WC top as well, so I bought oner of those for my son when we went to the Samoa QF in Newcastle.

    For Glasgow I have last years blue top with the crane motives and the previous years white one with the Mackintosh theme. In a few years time, if another one catches my eye, I may buy another, or alternatively if I put on any more weight!

    If you like it buy it, if not, stick with what you have got. They are all Scotland and Glasgow shirts at the end of the day and I have never noticed any sneering for not being up to date. It is actually quite nice being in a mixed group of shirts. A few Scotland shirts over the years I would not have been seen dead in but each to their own.

  6. Great point Grahame, a new shirt is definitely not compulsory. The variety of rugby shirts on display at any match is one of those little contributing factors that makes a match day so special.

First XV

You might also like these:

Craig is joined by Rory and Iain to look at the latest news including Scotland's win over Canada and the upcoming test against the USA.
Gregor Townsend has picked the strongest XV possible from his touring squad for the visit to Washington DC to play the USA, writes Rory.
Gregor Townsend has named his team to face Canada in the first match of the Skyscanner Americas Tour with 10 players given the opportunity to make their Scotland debut.
Craig is joined by Iain, Jonny and Rory to discuss Glasgow's momentous win in the final of the 2024 URC

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion