Last weekend was the start of the 2021 Six Nations tournament, and it produced some compelling rugby stories. Scotland triumphed over England at Twickenham for the first time since 1983. Ireland were valiant in defeat against Wales despite playing for 66 minutes a man down. And France brushed aside Italy, reminding us why they are one of the favourites for the World Cup in 2023.
But I’m not here to talk about any of that. Every sportsperson knows that if you look good, you play good. A team’s kit is the key factor in determining their performance. And since the start of last year’s Six Nations, there are a whole set of new kits in play. So I’m here to rank the teams’ home shirts from worst to best.
Ireland are the only team in the competition that are sponsored by what I deem, without explaining my criteria, as a classic rugby shirt manufacturer. This effort by Canterbury however is pretty poor. I’ve always found the red in the middle of the Vodafone logo quite jarring and this is no exception. The black trim on the collar and sleeves looks quite good. But the weird pattern has a strong ‘I was furloughed last March and left the shirts in a damp cupboard for six months and now they’re covered in black mould’ vibe.
The first of three shirts made by Macron, this effort is okay, but it’s let down by the sponsor. It’s asking me to do way more reading than I want to on the front of a shirt, and it’s unnecessarily close to the logos above it. This leaves the shirt looking simultaneously cramped and empty. I also don’t like the white patch under the collar, which looks like they tried making it a V-neck before hastily deciding that was a bad idea and covering it up.
This effort by Le Coq Sportif is commendable for its simplicity, and the white and red stripes on the sleeves produce a satisfying Tricolour. However, I’m not a fan of the large red rooster France Rugby have had as their logo for the past couple of years. This, combined with the fact that the sponsor’s logo and Le Coq Sportif’s logo are also both birds, is a bit much for me. In short, they’ve overcoq-ed it.
Considering they went from rugby kit powerhouse Canterbury to Umbro, a brand more associated with football, this shirt is surprisingly good. It’s hard to go drastically wrong with plain white, but the trim is delicate and the Umbro logo looks good in red. It’s not so obvious on the pros, but the O2 logo does look weirdly massive though when you look on the Umbro website. The commemorative shirt England played in against Scotland however was pretty poor. I know there are sponsorship obligations but plastering O2 and Umbro on the sleeves really detracted from the retro style.
Wales are the second of the Macron jerseys and this one looks very good. The Isuzu logo fits nicely and doesn’t upset the colour scheme (take note, Vodafone). If this shirt had been made by Under Armour, it would have topped the list. But going from Under Armour to Macron feels like asking your mum for cash for your birthday and getting a gift card instead. It’s good, but it’s not quite what you wanted. It’s also eminently possible I’m a fan of this shirt just because the green trim gives it an uncanny resemblance to the current Liverpool FC home shirt.
This Scottish jersey is a thing of beauty from Macron and by far the best offering in the competition. There’s an element of old school about the white collar. This will please the fans who think the game’s gone soft because of polyester shirts and players being substituted when they’re concussed. The BT logo is big and clear but doesn’t overwhelm the shirt, which Italy could learn from. And the gold trim on the sleeves looks particularly smart, matching nicely with the fact that Scotland are actually quite good at the moment.
So there you have it, my completely arbitrary and totally definitive ranking of the 2021 Six Nations home kits. Do you agree with my ranking? Let me know what you think in the comments section or on social media.