Field Theory by Hadyn Green

13

The final four

The results are in and I’m… well I’m not surprised, a little disheartened maybe.

In Keith Ng-esque graphical form here are the numbers:

As you can see, in the Super Rugby results the numbers were close with the Chiefs and the Crusaders scraping through by very narrow margins. While in the international category New Zealand beat the tenacious green jersey of South Africa and France had a convincing victory over the white of England.

I’m a little sad that the Stormers wonderful blue and white striped uniform has been bumped off by the Chiefs dark and stormy red and black uniform. Speaking of red and black, the Chiefs will be playing the Crusaders in a rematch of the Super Rugby semi-final this year.

I went back and checked, when the two teams play neither wear their away strips. This seems to be because the component parts of the uniforms clash enough and because the Crusaders have a more vibrant red than the Chiefs darker colours.

Funny enough, I had run this competition a few years back the Chiefs would’ve beaten the Crusaders easily. What were they thinking with that sword? Of course both would’ve lost to the Blues, but that’s by the by.

In the international match up, the “all” black jersey (Caution: jersey may contain up to 20% more white than previously experienced) has been on a very easy run so far with no real competition. Suddenly it finds itself up against the retro, royal blue styling of the French jersey.

The French are a first tier rugby nation with no jersey sponsor. The only one. New Zealand, as I have continually griped about, is no longer on that list. But let’s look at the good things about these jerseys.

  • Essentially the jerseys are identical in construction and the construction is amazing. Both of these jerseys represent the best uniforms (construction-wise) for rugby, in the world.
  • The stripes that adidas normally run along the shoulders are absent on the AB jersey and on the French jersey they sit along the collar bone and create the tricolor. The French version is a subtle variation on what is a big corporation’s signature. Whereas the All Black’s plain black is a sign of respect from adidas (which makes the AIG thing even more annoying).
  • The French have returned to the royal French blue rather than the darker shades they had under Nike. It seems so much more Gallic and harks back to their best uniforms.
  • Yes I am plugging the French, but the All Black jersey is still pretty good. It hasn’t been completely ruined yet. Just as a reminder this is what the NZ uniforms used to look like (like waaay back in 2011). Or in gif format:

  • It was odd hearing the ground announcer on the weekend call out the score at halftime for the "Qantas Wallabies". No national identity there. If it ever becomes the "AIG All Blacks", I might just quit.

Before I get to the voting form, this weekend just gone there was a test match I should probably mention.

Wasn’t it scrappy? There were some very good things to come out of it sure, like the fact that we won. And, despite the All Blacks looking rusty as hell, it was a convincing win.

Certain big name players ::cough::Israel Dagg::cough:: were invisible for most of the game and our line out needs a LOT of work. The scrums were the oddest part of the game and were just awful. Worse still, we weren’t very good at them. I couldn’t understand the continual “not straight” calls either.

It seems to be part of a worrying trend from referees to not understand relational motion as many forward passes (on both sides) went uncalled in a similar fashion to the ones missed in the Super Rugby final.

I felt that this would be a big game for the All Blacks. All of the build-up seemed to imply that they wanted to make a statement with this game and to rack up a large score. Whenever an interviewer asked about the new Wallabies coach the line was always the same “it doesn’t matter”. The feeling was that the All Blacks didn’t want there to be any glitches nothing for the media hang on to and say “Wallabies rally behind new coach”.

And then there was Quade Cooper. Tweets from inside the stadium suggested it was not solely kiwi fans doin’ the booin’ and I can understand Australian fans frustration. With a new coach in place the last thing they want to see is the underperforming #10 from the last team.

Personally I’m not a big fan of booing a player just because he’s on the field/has the ball (trying to distract him from a task like kicking is different) and I wish the fans who do it would knock it off. Cooper’s just not that important anymore.

Finally, look how awesome these old Aussie uniforms are!

DSC02579 

6

The business end

The results from the second round are in and there’s been a few upsets. By upsets I mean that I am upset that people don’t agree with me, but I’ll get over it.

Super Rugby:

  • The Stormers came off their first round bye to trounce the Cheetahs 70-23
  • The Chiefs came back from after an early surge from Auckland to beat the Blues 48-46
  • The Highlanders comfortably beat the Kings 64-29
  • And in the final match the Crusaders fought back from a first half deficit to beat the Hurricanes 52-41

International Rugby:

  • It didn’t look good for the French, going into the weekend the Irish had a comfortable lead, but a late rally saw Les Bleus squeeze past 54-41
  • It just isn’t the best year for Australia when they’re up against England, losing this one 68-28
  • In an upset (again, I’ll get over it) the beautiful blue and white of Italy was beaten by the solid green of South Africa 57-38
  • Finally in a realistic scoring match-up, the All Blacks beat Fiji 82-14

(scores are votes not %)

bracket

The Chiefs and South Africa are now the two lowest seeded teams (7 and 8 respectively) to make it through. The biggest clash may be between England’s pure white and France’s retro blue sans advertisements. In Super Rugby the green of the Highlanders clashes (literally) with the red of the Crusaders in a southern derby.

The Stormers lovely blue and white stripes face off against the Germanic colours of the Chiefs. South Africa faces its biggest challenge in the black jersey, will AIG be the downfall of the All Blacks? That’s up to you.

3

Uniform Madness: Round one results!

It’s the results show, let’s find out which teams you all voted for.

Super Rugby

  • Cheetahs (52%) Rebels (48%)
  • Chiefs (76%) Brumbies (24%) (Chiefs win again!)
  • Blues (69%) Sharks (16%)
  • Highlanders (69%) Force (16%)
  • Kings (81%) Bulls (19%)
  • Hurricanes (71%) Waratahs (29%)
  • Crusaders (98%) Reds (2%)

International

  • Tonga (48%) Ireland (52%)
  • Australia (56%) Japan (44%)
  • England (88%) US (12%)
  • Italy (84%) Argentina (16%)
  • Revote after tie: South Africa vs Wales
  • Fiji (83%) Samoa (17%)
  • NZ (96%) Scotland (4%)

The result of the South Africa v Wales revote was a 53% victory to… (XFactor style-zooms and tension building music)… the Boks!

So with Ireland beating Tonga in an “upset” and South Africa beating Wales, it’s clear you all prefer dark green to red and white. There was nothing too surprising in the Super Rugby results although I thought the Bulls would do better than they did. Note there are no more Australian teams left (other than the Wallabies, who scraped past Japan).

Round Two is up now and the two top teams, France and the Stormers (who got a first round bye because uneven numbers don’t fit into a bracket nicely), are in the mix!

Before we get to the voting form I just want to mention some of the random things I discovered while looking this stuff up:

  • Are you pretty good at the rugby and have some sort of American lineage? Well, the US rugby team has a sign-up sheet.
  • Kooga make some ugly unis but not as bad as Puma.
  • Adidas seems to be the only company that doesn’t do piping, while Canterbury LOVE piping. Except on the English jersey which maybe the best jersey they have ever made (yes I include the All Blacks’ jerseys in this).

bracket

 

3

Red versus Green

I've collated results for the first round of the uniform competition and there was a tie! Wales vs South Africa ended in a draw so it's going to a sudden death one-day only contest!

Wales: The team with Under Armor who in the past have worn these yellow things but who never, unlike England, look out of place in the pub (note the Scot is the only one actually drinking). Though they have also gone down the "oh we should totally wear black because it's cool" route. Right now it's red and white slightly over complicated with odd-shaped side panels and a weird little white bib.

South Africa: sticking with Canterbury means one thing: piping. Piping that oddly disappears when they train though. But does that orange/yellow piping really bring back the glory of that collar from 1995? (We should've won that game, but that Bok uniform is one of their best.) Of all the teams the Boks change the least, even Nike didn't fuck with it too much. The weirdest they got was the 2007 Caterbury sticky "underwire" pattern.

So who wins it? One day, two teams, best dressed wins!

12

In Judgement

The Super Rugby season is wrapping up after six long months including breaks for the international test window and the Lions Tour and we hope to get some respite from Steve “where’s my close up?” Walsh. When the final whistle blows in Hamilton we’ll start up the second round of test matches, both at “home” (Investec Rugby Tournament) and away (the end of year northern tour). We may even have some time for a provincial rugby tournament of some sort.

So now seems a perfect time to do an in depth analysis of uniforms. (Some of you may be asking why, as a Chiefs supporter, I’m not writing about the upcoming SHUT UP SHUT UP YOU’LL JINX IT!)

Those who’ve been reading this blog for a while know that I’ve got a “thing” for sports uniforms. I’m a believer in both innovation and tradition. So for example the French ombré uniforms that Nike put out for the last World Cup were innovative in their deign but railed against the tradition of France wearing the same blue that is on their flag. Meanwhile the South Africans have a very traditional uniform that borders on boring.

I began to wonder, after watching New Zealand play France this year, if my opinions had shifted. I mean, it used to be that New Zealand had the best uniforms in rugby, full stop. There just wasn’t a better uniform out there… and three little letters took that away.

And so here it is, my new breakdown of the best uniforms in rugby (for the purposes of this, I have taken rugby to mean only Super Rugby and the best international teams).

Super Rugby:

15: Reds – Are you kidding me? How much junk do you want to put on your uniform including a great big white square on your stomach? Also, notable for being the only red uniform that isn’t a “proper” red.

14: Sharks – I don’t mind Mr Price, but I bloody hate those collars and the diagonal “Reebok”.

13: ForceNever been good

12: Rebels – A uniform with a built-in starry tie

11: Waratahs – A least try to be a little bit different from the rugby league team

10: Brumbies – This is an anniversary strip for ACT’s centenary. Not great but not the worst either

9: Kings – Pretty high ranking for a boring uni, but this is their first year and I like that it’s not black but grey.

8: Bulls – I assume this was designed to be dazzle camouflage

7: Chiefs – The worst of the kiwi teams and I say that as a fan

6: HurricanesSolid yellow, pretty good but doesn’t look as good as solid blue or red

5: Cheetahs – The only team to play at home in white (because nobody counts what the Brumbies wear as “white”) and the aqua and orange remind me of the 1970s Miami Dolphins.

4: Highlanders – Two reasons why these guys are so high on the list. 1. A green away jersey. 2. All the rest of the NZ teams have the names of their feeder provinces inside the collar, the Highlanders have them written on the chest.

3: Blues – Used to have the best uni, but the embossed Rangitoto looks way too naff.

2: Crusaders – It’s just such a pretty red!

1: StormersBands. It’s as simple as that. Blue bands with a white background and the sponsor’s logo incorporated into the design not just slapped on. Bloody well done by adidas there.

International Rugby

15: Scotland – This jersey has to be taking the piss. It looks like a 1990s X-Men costume.

14: USAStripes with no stars and just a bunch of awful

13: Argentina – Seriously, WTF? Argentina used to have an awesome uniform now… this? It looks like a Duran Duran album cover.

12: Ireland – I do not understand why this uniform has sticky boob panels.

11: Samoa – I get that you want traditional art on your uniforms, but moderation, please.

10: JapanPretty basic, nothing flash, but nothing to hate either.

9: Wales – Given they wear just red and white (with a hint of green) they sure do tinker with their uni a lot.

8: South AfricaYawn

7: Australia – This is far from the worst jersey they have worn. That little green swooshy thing annoys me though.

6: Fiji – I like this traditional design in an arch.

5: Tonga - like Wales (and millions of other teams) wear red and white, but a smaller budget means they tinker less and so get a nicer uniform out of it.

4: Italy – I’m as surprised as you are, but I just like this simple uni. Much better than the old Kappa unis

3: EnglandWhite and just white. Also the Canterbury logo is red which is nice. Oh and Canterbury! No more colour-changing Nike!

2: New ZealandA, I, and G. those three letters have ruined what was once the best uniform in rugby and one of the best in the world.

1: FranceSacre Bleus! But those stripes along the shoulders and the proper blue and the white collar! Oh my!

But I could be wrong!

There is a very small percentage chance that I’m wrong. In order to test this hypothesis I have constructed, in the great American tradition, a tournament bracket!

The teams have been added based on the ranks I gave them above and added to the bracket accordingly. If my seeding was correct then both #1 seeds (France and the Stormers would meet in the final).

Below you will see the bracket and a form. Over the next five weeks I’ll update both as you vote on which uniform should go through based on the head-to-head match-ups. And if you chuck in your PAS name I'll draw one of you at the end to win a prize (currently 2 kilos of Eden Coffee beans! I figure five weeks should be long enough for me to rustle up some more prizes).

So get to it! Do South Africa look better than Wales? Is the lightning pattern on the Bulls really that bad? It’s up to you.

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