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Why did England’s most historic rugby kit have two designs?

Our upcoming ‘Rugby World Cup & Sports Memorabilia Auction’ features two pieces that would stand out as prized possessions among any Rugby fan’s collection.

The shirt on the left, is signed by hero of the match, Jonny Wilkinson and was worn by him for the first half of the game. The shirt on the right, is signed by another stand-out player from the tournament (tighthead prop) Phil Vickery. His shirt was also worn during part of the final match against Australia. However, if you have an eagle-eye, you may have noticed the slightly different shirt designs between the two kits. By analysing footage of this historic game, it shows that players who started as backs wore the design on the left, whilst those playing as forwards wore the design on the right. This made us curious why two slightly different kit designs were worn by the England team during the match. So, we made it our mission to try and find out...

What we know

The design for England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup shirt was given an extensive amount of thought. The England coach at the time, Sir Clive Woodward, tasked Nike with developing tighter-fitting rugby shirts for the campaign. His reluctance for the kit to be baggy came from his belief that baggy shirts gave his players a greater chance of being tackled. This theory was sparked by a match against Scotland two years prior. Woodward believed that Jason Robinson could have scored more tries in the match had the kits (at the time) not been as baggy. With this new brief in mind, a more light-weight shirt was created that was tighter and therefore trickier to grab in tackles. The kit’s design aimed to reduce the impact of sweat, helping it to stay light on the players backs. Since this world cup, tighter kits have become a common choice in professional Rugby.

Design differences

However if you look closely at the images of two shirts, you will notice the extra detailing on the shirt on the right, which used to belong to Phil Vickery. Closer examination of this part of the shirt reveals this extra detailing to be raised dots which have been screen printed onto the shirts. These dots are both grippy and sticky to the touch. This would assist the forwards with ball carrying and make the ball harder to dislodge in tackles. This pattern also features on the shoulders. This shirt also has extra seams and stitching which would presumably further reinforce its strength. This would be highly beneficial for the forwards in this position having to face the extra rigors of the scrum. These two shirts will go up for auction as part of Graham Budd’s ‘Rugby World Cup & Sports Memorabilia Auction’. Don’t miss out on the auction! Click here to register your interest. Think you’ve got some Rugby memorabilia sitting at home and wonder how much it’s worth? Request a valuation from our team.


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