...and yet clashes still happen at the top level, even in 2022.
Rant: Rugby kit clashes should be a thing of the past!
It’s fairly incredible that as rugby union races to professionalise more and more, branching off into new money-making opportunities as it goes, that the issue of what shirt your team will wear on the field can still cause utter confusion for spectators. Extraordinarily, the kit clash is still happening in 2022.
In the Champions Cup in the most recent season, we saw Connacht and Leinster run out in European kits just a skoosh on either side of the blue-green spectrum, with shirts similar enough in shade to have fans squinting. Up in the gods of the stadium it must have been an eye-ache – it certainly was on telly. And it was the second week in a row they had run out in these kits.
In the URC early in the season, the Scarlets met the Lions, who wore a white-fronted number with an all-red back. Against, yep, the Scarlets. Everyone was seeing red.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Or that rare, annoyingly. In 2018, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) felt compelled to apologise for an horrendous light-blue clash between Glasgow Warriors and Cardiff. Back in 2020, you couldn’t tell the Bulls and Highlanders apart. In January this year, in Japan Rugby League One, Red Dolphins and Skyactivs took to the field in almost identical red-and-black shirts.
With club league and Test schedules largely sketched out in advance (cup runs aside), how is there not enough time to foresee issues of kit clashes coming down the pipe in later weeks?
Even in the week building up to a big game, there is surely time for someone neutral to look at proposed jerseys for the next game and go, “Hold on, these shirts look confusingly similar, guys…” While we’re at it, it’s worth noting why home teams in Test rugby don’t always wear their home colour. Teams are meant to have options for home and alternate kits, and it is beholden for the hosts to change if a clash looms (think Ireland v South Africa, for example).
However, the alternate kit should forever be a sizeable step away from the colourings of your home shirt. That’s because many teams have to make bulk orders of shirts far in advance of the season, so there’s not much wiggle room.
Match officials should always have the power to force a kit change, but it’s nonsense if it’s ever allowed to get to that point. There should also be a time-out in the corner for any side (and marketers) who allow alternate kits to look dangerously close to home shirts. If your home shirt is green, don’t just go darker green or camouflage for the back-up jersey.
Shirt sales are good. Being able to differentiate between teams is better.
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