The Rugby Shirt

November brings rugby season as the international matches are on and I’d like to inform you, the reader, that I am neither a rugby player nor a particularly enthusiastic fan but I come from a family who enjoy the matches. I am more enthusiastic about fashion and look more towards the clothes they are wearing and how they help them perform better. There has been much development in rugby shirts and the players’ overall kit over the years due to new technologies and other developments in the textiles industry.

The style of the rugby shirt is similar to that of a polo shirt but traditionally have a stiffer collar. In the modern day, the collar is reduced in size or even removed, like the England team’s traditional home kit, to prevent the opposition grabbing onto it in a tackle. Buttons were used to fasten the front for many years however, they have been completely removed due to many falling off in the game and the use of fabrics with more stretch. This stretchy fabric also means that they are figure hugging and even more difficult for a potential tackler to use to grab onto.  Short sleeves keep the players cool during the game.

Interestingly, colours also play a huge part in tactics during the game. Obviously, team colours are hugely important for recognition but to boost the teams’ chances of winning too. For example, England’s new autumn kit this year uses state-of-the-art camouflage ideas to mask player movement.

Fabrics are a very important choice for this type of sportswear because rugby usually takes place outside, in the winter and so even though an absorbent fabric will be more comfortable for the players, it will hinder them when absorbing mud and water. Polyester, a synthetic fibre, is not absorbent due to the way it is made and so would be a suitable choice. The shirts are normally changed every game and so using cotton would be very pricy for the team; polyester is far cheaper and so will not impact the budget as well as being reasonably rip and tear resistant. To mix it with elastane would produce a tightfitting design which produces a material which is easier to move around in.

Innovation in sports wear has enabled more hi-tech kit for rugby players. An example of this can be seen with England when in 2003, they were the first nation in the world to develop a harder to tackle design by making their rugby shirts tight fitting instead of traditional cotton. This style is now seen across all the countries’ teams. More recently, breathable fabrics have been developed to ensure that they are comfortable on the field which will ultimately produce better results. The future brings the promise of new designs, techniques, and materials to improve the athletes’ performance in all types of sports.

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