Rugby kits, particular the shirts, have been an area of considerable innovation over the years. Modern dynamically fitting shirts utilise a number of developments and are a million miles away from the baggy cotton shirts of old.
Major sportswear manufacturers like Nike and Adidas have worked tirelessly to research and develop new technologies to give their teams the edge. Let’s have a look at some of their most recent innovations that you can find on the rugby kits of today and their benefit to the modern day player.
The first difference the casual observer would notice between a modern day rugby kit and the jerseys of old would be the tightness of the shirt. The traditional baggy shirts which were ubiquitous until the mid 90s, allowed the opposition plenty of opportunity to grab a handful of shirt as you ghosted past them. Now tight fitting jerseys have been designed with the aim of helping you to evade tackles and break through the opposition’s defence.
Nike now use a Dri FIT fabric to make their rugby kits, which aims to reduce the build up of sweat by dragging moisture away from the body and into the quick drying fabric of the shirt to keep players both cool and dry. This material is extensively tested at Loughborough University to ensure both strength and flexibility.
The collars on many of the present day rugby kits are also elasticised to keep the shirts closer to the body and reduce the opportunity for opposing players to grab hold of any part of the shirt. To this means, the hemlines of modern day Nike kits have the addition of a silicone gripper which works to keep the shirt close to the body.
On the torso of some modern rugby shirts is a strategically placed gripper panel which helps players to keep control of the ball at the point of contact. This is placed across the chest, shoulders and stomach of the shirt in a checked pattern.
It is not just shirts that have been subject to innovation, rugby kits have received a makeover from the toes up. Recent additions to the shorts include a special type of paint which is particularly effective at drying players’ hands during a game and keeping their ball control sharp. The socks now feature material which improves their strength, along with a far better fitting footbed which enhances comfort and reduces the frequency of blisters.