How The Rugby Shirt Became An Iconic Piece Of Clothing

How The Rugby Shirt Became An Iconic Piece Of Clothing

Looking casual but elegant has never been easier. Whether you prefer trousers to chinos or plaid to white, there is something for everyone. The rugby shirt is one of the most famous wardrobe pieces in the UK, and it has become increasingly popular throughout the world. Rugby itself was started as a precursor to football during the 19th century at the Rugby School. The sport then evolved over the years and branched into different sports, the most famous of those being rugby and football. Rugby, however, has remained the primary “established” sport of England and the popularity of the game has spread across Europe, hopping to France and has been embraced by all Commonwealth countries.

One of the most iconic developments to come from the sport however has been the rugby shirt. For a sporting garment, rugby jerseys are extremely smart and casual. With their buttoned collar appearance, range of colours, and long and short sleeve designs, the rugby shirt has broken into fashion circles and it’s not just men who wear them.

As with most sports, the rugby jersey has seen some transformation over the years, with the most dramatic changes occurring during the 2003 World Cup. Nike introduced a 100% polyester kit which England wore and were extremely tight fitting. Although other sports – notably football – had already adopted this style of clothing it had not been seen in rugby before. This caused a bit of a stir initially as rugby was typically seen as a man’s sport and the new shirts were seen to be introduced for fashionable purposes (something which belongs on a football pitch and not a rugby field).

Built for fashion or not, the benefits of the new shirts were there for everyone to see. The tight fitting tops meant that the loose material couldn’t be grabbed by opponents, which was an on-going problem with cotton shirts. The tight fitting nature of the tops also provided the players with less restrictions and made them more aerodynamic – as a loose material, cotton could create a certain amount of drag which is not ideal when you have four 18 stone men bearing down on you as your about to score a try.

Another revolutionary component of the polyester shirts is the fact that they do not absorb water. Rugby is a sport played in the autumn and winter months and in the UK this means plenty of rain and mud. Cotton shirts are notorious for absorbing water and this can create a great amount of extra weight for a player to carry, and you would be surprised at just how much this can affect a player’s performance over the course of 80 minutes. Polyester is a much slicker material and so water and mud simply runs off the shirt.

Due to the new innovations, the iconic rugby shirt has transformed itself into a standalone fashion garment. Cotton styles can rarely be found in your team’s club shop and instead on clothes rails in fashion shops, and this is a testament to how far the sport has come.

Cotton Traders specialise in casual clothing as well as Englandrugby shirts and wales rugby shirts. For more information visit