I don’t think many people would associate rugby players with having good fashion sense. The image of footballers turning up to the training ground in designer labels and jewellery is far from what you see at a rugby club. Some would argue that this is down to the footballers’ inflated salaries and high profile but I feel it owes more to the differing body shapes and old school nature of some of the rugby fraternity.
Within each squad there are various stylistic templates, most of which are determined by age and position. I am going to give you an insight into the different modes of dress you are likely to see when a rugby team takes to the town…
The Front Row
Some would argue that these guys are the root cause of rugby’s reputation for poor (or no) fashion choices. I understand that it is hard to dress well when you are a larger gentlemen but that can’t be used as a catch-all excuse.
They keep the old school vibe alive with their decisions to wear cotton rugby jerseys, nice, baggy chinos and a good old pair of boat shoes. As one member of our team came to be known last year, the “Jim Royle” look.
You would think this was an older generation thing, but apparently not. For a prop, no matter what the age, when it comes to trousers, the bigger and baggier the better. These are the guys keeping Jacamo in business.
The Second Row
The best way to describe the locks’ way of dressing is “functional," especially when it comes to their footwear.
They are big fans of combining jeans with gym trainers, much like a young Jeremy Clarkson. The ironic thing about this, however, is that due to the cyclical nature of fashion, this look is actually back in and they have inadvertently become “on fleek” (I definitely read too much Grazia). T
hen comes the upper half, which is where they allow their inner child to express itself. Bright colours and t-shirts, adorned with meaningless slogans are a favourite of the boiler room boys. And it is in the second row that t-shirts start to get tighter. It would be a crime if the results of all those hours in the gym couldn’t be put on show, and thus the sleeves are often inappropriately tight and short.
The Back Row
Just as they do in a game of rugby, the back rowers provide the sartorial link between the forwards and backs. Here we catch the first glimpses of style when it comes to what they wear. Of course we still have some reactionary rogues who love to wear a nice checked shirt with short sleeves, boot-cut jeans and Converse All-Stars, but in general they are more of the moment.
The tightness of the tops is now at its zenith and we will certainly find plenty of examples of spray-on t-shirts or those purchased from Baby Gap. Vain bastards, these. However they are generally pretty well turned out and have given at least some thought to what they are doing.
I was originally going to talk about the backs as a single group but fly halves, as we all know, are slightly different to the rest. As the quarterbacks of the team they are its most prominent members and therefore generally try to be the best dressed and best groomed.
They are up to date with the latest trends and seem to change their wardrobe according to the current season’s favorites. It is very rare for most boys to travel to training in normal clothes, as it is more practical to arrive in what you are going to train in. This is where the fly-half differs and never misses an opportunity to pitch up in their best gear.
Rest of the Backs
The rest of the backs also take pride in their appearance, but there is a slightly more relaxed feel to what is worn.
Nobody really strays too far from the middle of the road and you can expect modern-day staples such as V-neck T- shirts, tight fitted jeans and either a pair of Nike trainer or some Vans. Having said that, the wingers can be slightly fruitier dressers, as befits their position on the margins, perhaps. If we are going to see some out-there dressing then 11 and 14 is normally where it’s at.
(There is one huge exception to all of this and that is the Southern Hemisphere Player. The ones I have come across have two main staples in their wardrobe and they are a baseball cap, normally worn backwards, and a basketball jersey. Seems that Auckland being within 7000 miles of Los Angeles makes it close enough to support the Lakers)
So next time you see a group of rugby boys out on the town, try playing guess the position, just from their clobber. If all else fails, use this handy mnemonic to remember the relationship between dress-sense and position numbers-very simply, “Worst is first”.
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