It’s white, it has a red rose, it’s boring – it’s exactly the same.

These are some criticisms that have been levelled at England’s new kit which was launched earlier this week.

Yes – it is white, and it does have a red rose (imagine the outcry if it weren’t these things?); Canterbury’s latest version is elegantly simple and it ticks all of the boxes, but don’t confuse this for being boring or for that matter exactly the same. In fact, it is anything but…

The marketing spiel and subtle links to the fans in the stadium may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but once you get past the ‘white noise’ there really is some interesting technology at play. In a professional age where ‘marginal gains’ and environments that leave no stone un-turned are such a big part of rugby culture – the sports technology utilised in the design of equipment may just be the difference in the outcome of a particular moment, or even a match.

This is of course nothing new, Sir Clive Woodward famously pioneered Nike’s skin-tight jersey that made players more elusive (if less attractive) and of course additional material on the jersey to help catch the ball and bind onto other players is now commonplace.

Canterbury are no strangers to innovation either – priding themselves on their jersey’s structural integrity, specifically around the neck and collar area, throughout their long history. This has been built on for the 2019 edition with a one -piece crossover crew collar which is cooler, more comfortable and reduces ‘neck pump’ – the need for a player to waft the neckline to increase cooling airflow. The structure of the jersey also includes forward facing side seams, which enables the garment to twist and move smoothly in-line with the player without hindrance or distraction.

Canterbury have also built upon the excellent thermoregulation properties demonstrated on the 2017 Lions jersey by including Vapo-Dri technology in the new design. This breathable material is designed for adaptive cooling which works to maintaining core temperature, it is quick drying and is easily able to wick moisture away from the body i.e. it boosts the evaporation of sweat. All these features blend together into a jersey that is intended to maximise player comfort and reduce external distracting factors – thus allowing them to concentrate fully on the game.

So whether you like it or not, it is important to acknowledge that the new design isn’t exactly the same but it is an extra tool in the armoury.

 

Written by James Jones – 27/09/18

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