The British & Irish Lions are preparing for their 2017 Tour to New Zealand. The anticipation rose a level with the release of the Lions 2017 jersey in November and World Rugby Shop spoke with Canterbury’s Senior Designer Gareth Woosey about the inspirations and technical advances behind the jersey.
From the start of the process the goal of the design team was to create a ‘remastered classic’ that is ‘high performance but takes elements from the past.’
Woosey’s team looked to the 1950 Lions jersey for inspiration. The Lions toured New Zealand and Australia in 1950 and, as was the custom at the time a local manufacturer, Canterbury, made the team’s jersey.
Woosey told WorldRugbyShop.com “As you can see in the photos we took inspiration from the colour of the jersey to the dimensions of the collar. Our philosophy for the British & Irish Lions was always to create a remastered classic. So even though the player’s jersey is a high performance product it take elements from the past.”
The solid red jersey and collar make this year’s shirt stand out and classic in its own right.
“We respect the tradition of the British & Irish Lions jersey and our ‘remastered classic’ philosophy dictated that we retained an all red jersey. And when you get up close it reveals several subtle details which are all unique to the Lions.”
But the jersey is a far cry from the cotton or poly/cotton jerseys of the 1950s.
“The unique technical aspect of the British & Irish Lions jersey is the Vaposhield finish to the shoulders and sleeves. This reduces moisture ingress during a game and helps keep the jersey lightweight. The wingtip collar is also unique to The Lions and whilst offering an elegance it also adds a performance benefit of venting the back of the neck which a traditional collar wouldn’t.”
After a year of exhaustive research into team and jersey history as well as what the players and fans expect from such an iconic jersey Canterbury presented the jersey to The Lions.
“We spent many hours researching what the British & Irish Lions means to the player and fan. We had access to archives and libraries and really immersed ourselves in the culture of the British & Irish Lions,” added Woosey.
“We are continuously advancing our products though player insights to ensure we are always at the pinnacle of rugby performance wear, and the British & Irish Lions jersey encompasses everything that we know and have learned to date.
“We tested the full kit with our elite teams who wear Canterbury but the kit was disguised visually and no-one was ever told exactly what the end use for the prototypes was.”
The British & Irish Lions side is a unique and special touring team and their jersey reflects these qualities.
Players and fans will wear the famous jersey next summer with pride as the Lions head to the home of the World Champions.