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Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era


By Geoff Banks
August 23 2013

It all began with a beauty; from 1996 to 1999 the Cotton Oxford shirt sponsored first by Pinnacle, then by Kenwood is still a favourite of Sarries fans who were around in that era. Here is Michael Lynagh kicking a penalty in THAT match at Vicarage Road against Newcasle in 1998. I like it a lot so it gets 8/10 from me.

Saracens Michael Lynagh kicks a penalty 

Not only was the home kit for those three seasons great, the change kit - in those days worn by home sides in case of a colour clash - was also a belter. A definite 8/10 effort. Here's Philippe Sella reminding us how good it, and the red socks, were:

Kenwood continued its sponsorhip of Sarries into the 1999-2000 season and the eagerly-awaited kit was going to be modelled by Kyran Bracken and Danny Grewcock at its launch photoshoot. Legend has it that Canterbury - who had recently took over Cotton Oxford - couldn't supply the club in time, so there was some startling improvisation as Messrs. Grewcock and Bracken had their torsos painted in the new design. The ploy certainly got noticed and, depending on your persuasion, was either tantalising or terrifying. Alas, an online search failed to find a picture, so here's one instead of Francois Pienaar on the hoof against Munster in the 2000 Heineken Cup in what I consider a 7/10 outfit.

 Francois Pienaar, Saracens

The change kit of the same period was, I think, really good. Probably because it was worn by Tim Horan (below, in the same match) when he scored that last minute, 60 metre at Bath in 2001 whilst wearing it. 8/10 for sure.

During the Canterbury era there was also a special 125th anniversary shirt which was produced and which had a limited run of 800, with each being numbered individually. Not only was it a bit of a disappointment style-wise, some berk at CCC thought it a good idea to put black numbers with white outlines on the back making them totally illegible in the few European Challenge Cup matches that saw their use. Quite probably a collector's item now, it still gets only 4/10 for its appearance. Oh, and it has grey on it. Don't get me started on grey rugby shirts.

Ever wondered how those black and red, bespoke Fezboys shirts came about? Well, it was due to the three monstrosities provided by Reebok between 2002 and 2004. It wasn't a case of which was your favourite, but which you hated the least. Awful design, awful and stupid oval thingy on the sleeves, awful quality, awful mickey-take European shirt (yet another trend started at Sarries and copied elsewhere). In fact,  just plain awful. Here is the home one worn by Abdel Benazzi and worthy of 2/10.

Abdel Benazzi, Saracens

 Quick - get the sick bag..... Even girl-bait Kyran Bracken can't make this look good. 2/10.

Kyran Bracken of Saracens Rugby Club during the Zurich Premiership match against Bristol at The Memo

 

Ben Skirving's kit just about scrapes 3/10 because it's red. I like red.

 

Ben Skirving, Saracens

In the summer of 2004 we were hoping for some blessed relief all-round. At last a replacement for the Reebok kit; a new sponsor, a new manufacturuer in KooGa and some on-field improvement. I swear that the MAN sponsor's logos on the chest were worn in an episode The Monkees by the eponymous band dressed as superheroes. That big M took to new depths a shirt that had grey and - much to the horror of everyone at the time - no red. So without further ado here is a player who played for Sarries at a 1/10 level in a kit that scores 1/10. PS. what was that relfective piping all about?

Raphael Ibanez, Saracens

Here is the change kit. Like the home one, Only worse. Ches in this shot scores five points. Five points more than the shirt gets, which is a big, fat zero. 0/10.

Kris Chesney scores a try for Saracens.

 

The worst kits coincided with probably the worst on-field spell so when the new designs for 2006-2008 were revealed, many were hoping for improvements to both. The home design, as worn by Matt Cairns and Richard Hill at the 2008 Heineken Cup semi final, was pretty minimalist but the red had returned, plus the grey and the M logo were banished. It was easy to score more than its predecessor and so gets a solid 5/10 because minimalist is just a posh word for "a bit dull."

Saracens Richard Hill at the final whistle

If the home kit was a bit dull, the change kit had no such problems. In homage to the first Cotton Oxford change kit, KooGa hit the spot with the stripes (they weren't really hoops as they didn't go all the way around) on a kit that was an instant favourite, and is still to many the best yet. I'm still angry with myself for donating mine to a bar in Biarritz in return for nothing. Not even a beer. 9/10 for this glourous kit worn in glorious Bristol sunshine by Alan Dickens. Alan Dickens, Saracens

So after getting it very wrong at first and very right with the 2006-08 change kit, the bar was set very high for what turned out to be KooGa's swansong Sarries efforts and, my Lord, did they deliver! The 2008-10 home kit was the best ever. A great bit of business by Sarries, not unlike the bit of business that brought the bloke underneath to the club. 9/10 for the kit and at least as much again for Justin Marshall.

Justin Marshall, Saracens

 

Here it is! Bam! And you say God Damn! This is a dope jam! Sorry, a dope - cool in hip-hop parlance - shirt. I love mine. It's my favourite of all the Saracens jerseys since 1996. Not to mention it is red, and was worn in the 2010 Premiership Semi-Final at Uphill Gardens when Glen Jackson said famously "LET'S SING THE SONG!" at full time, follwing the conversion he kicked below to win the match. If you don't have one, get on eBay, stet! It's indescribably good. 10/10.

 

Saracens Glen Jackson kicks a conversion to put Saracens into the lead 19-21

The only way was down, inevitably, therefore Nike had the unenviable task of living up to the two best shirts of the pro era and, to be honest, they did a pretty good - 7 out of 10 - job of this home kit worn by James Short, and worn by the team the day Sarries won the Premiership in 2011. Why it lasted just one season is a question that remains unanswered.

 James Short, Saracens

Much as I thought the 2010-11 home shirt was pretty and pretty good. The same design, when translated into the white / black change version, worn by Chris Wyles here, did't quite cut it, and so loses a mark: 6/10.

 Chris Wyles, Saracens

The 2011-12 Champions kit was neat and tidy, but a bit bland, although the black and red was retained, making it worhty of a 6/10. Steve Borthwick holds his hands on his head, like so many of us, in the Heineken Cup Quarter Final.

Saracens Steve Borthwick during the Heineken Cup Quarter Final match at Vacarage Road, Watford.

The change got a lovely red hue, but as it was just the reversal of the home one, and gets a 7/10 due to the ordinary styling, as seen below on Kameli Ratouvou scoring a try on the way to winning the Melrose 7s.

Saracens Kameli Ratuvou scores a try as Jed-Forests Gregor Young dives in for the tackle during the

 

And so we come to the present day, ish, with the latest home and change kits from Nike which are striking but in different ways.

The "Dennis the Menace" look of the home kit worn by Jacques Burger below was one that divided opinoin on its launch in August 2012, but I think it has matured well and will be rememberd for a long time to come. 7/10.

 

Jacques Burger, Saracens

Like so many change kit mutations down the year, the 2012-13 white-and-wolf grey wasn't worthy of any wolf-whistles. Despite a nod to the expected red in the change kit, it was, almost literally, a pale shadow of the home version so Ernst Joubert's togs get a pale 3/10.

 

Ernst Joubert, Saracens

Finally, here we are, right up to date with the 2013-14 change kit which is a step on from the one above. Allianz has spent a lot of money on sponsorship and naming rights at Saracens and it was rumoured that the kit was going to be Allianz blue, in homage to the insurance firm's cash injection. Sarries playing in blue? Perish the thought. After all, how ridiculous did Wasps look in their blue change kit in 2012-13? Unfortunately, the blue is there, but to make things even worse, the rest is grey; a colour that should not be the base for any sports kit. As for the score, I'll leave that up to you, dear reader.

 

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Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
TheSaracens.com (IP Logged)
30/08/2013 12:48
Sticky wizard arrives belatedly.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2013:09:29:13:53:11 by Darraghgirl.

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
Innings (IP Logged)
30/08/2013 12:52
Great idea, but sadly I can't see more than about three pics, the rest being not downloaded.

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
RobB (IP Logged)
30/08/2013 13:05
lots of sheep in a snow storm for me as well!

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
tpr's headmistress (IP Logged)
30/08/2013 13:31
I can see them all and if the logo wasn't on the new shirt I'd quite like it, although I agree it isn't really Saracens' colours and a step too far.

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
Waldo (IP Logged)
30/08/2013 13:44
Now where did I put that Haircut 100 Gramaphone record ?

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
Squawker2 (IP Logged)
30/08/2013 13:51
Apparently my favourite (though partly based due to comfort) is scored with 1/10 here - while the lack of red was indeed a flaw, I thought the grey under the arms worked well

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
30/08/2013 16:31
I think the underlying trend is we like red away kits (maybe we're all closet Gloucester fans!!!)

And I like the 2002 shirt, but then that was my first one so I suppose you'll always be attached to what you first wear to games. My wife tries occasionally to stop me wearing it, but I point out I've known that shirt longer than I've known her!

Agree fully that the MF Global kits were a high point and I became a lot more fond of last season's home kit as the season went on.

Unsure about blue and grey, neither are really Sarries colours if you ask me. But then I don't like white kits either so maybe I should stop complaining!

Great article by the way, can we get it added to the sidebar as club history?

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
JO'G (IP Logged)
30/08/2013 17:58
thanks for the Glen

lets sing the song moment

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
TonyTaff (IP Logged)
31/08/2013 10:57
The away kit, as modelled by Phillipe, is still my favourite. I'll not touch the modern blue kit with a barge-pole.

676.97 (*) donated to the Saracens Foundation due to visits to the Sarries frontpage [www.rugbynetwork.net]

Please read and submit articles for publication. (*) As at October 31, 2017.

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
Keith (IP Logged)
06/09/2013 10:30
I still wear my Pinnacle home shirt from 1996 - love it, 10/10.

I would still wear the away version too if the white stripes hadn't turned pink in an unfortunate laundry incident. Best. Shirt. Ever. 11/10.

All shirts since? Pah.

Blue? Blue??? FFS.

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
CK55FEZ (IP Logged)
06/09/2013 11:22
Not very interesting fact is that the main sponsor of the jersey that wins the poll (above) was not at all happy with it.

MFGlobal were the major club sponsor and therefore main shirt sponsor and had expected to only see their name on the front (apart obviously Saracens and the shirt maker).

It came therefore as a shock to see that Saracens had 'sold' the area above KooGaa to Unibond.

MFGlobal went as far as consulting their lawyers about what action could be taken against Saracens.

Saracens took the stance that the shirts (and the thousands of replicas) have been made so tough sh*t.

The lawyers confirmed that as MFGlbal had not specified they should be the only front of shirt sponsor in the contract and there was little MFGlobal could do.

In response MFGlobal rapidly lost interest in Saracens to the point that the executive management rarely went to any official events nor got involved in Saracens other non rugby days (golf etc).

The ill feeling was clearly noticeable when the staff noticed an embarassing lack of senior management at the shirt launch on the decking at Sugar Quay with Tower Bridge as the backdrop.

It was good for me however, as I got dibs on H-cup away events smiling smiley

History shows MFGlobal collapsed on Halloween 2011 with the loss of over 2,500 jobs billions of dollars of investors money (shares launched at $30 in July 2007) and many hundreds of millions of dollars in clients money still tied up with the liquidators nearly two years after the event.

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
JO'G (IP Logged)
06/09/2013 11:50
I would say that the all white big M away shirt was not of great sartorial elegance but for collecting signatures of players it was fantastic

my son ended up with over 100 signatures on it including some pretty rare ones - Dimes for one, Kenny for another
also the first signature that Andy Farrell did straight after being presented on the pitch. all in all he got 7 world cup 2003 winners from when they attended Sarries games

Jonny Wilkinson refused to sign it though - even though I popped him on my shoulders and presented son in front of him in the boxes in the East stand, felt tip in hand

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
CK55FEZ (IP Logged)
06/09/2013 12:25
In his defense I think you might have got JW on a bad day (had he just lost?)

I sat beside JW when he was guest at HRHRH farewell at the Grovesnor Hotel and JW was a perfect gent, even after he turned around during the main course to see a queue of maybe 50/60 people standing behind him waiting for autographs.

I can understand your son's disappointment but I am sure it was a one-0ff.

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
CK55FEZ (IP Logged)
06/09/2013 12:46
As an addendum to the MFGlobal tale, Saracens never sold the front of the jersey to a second sponsor before or since the 07/08 Man Group plc or 08/09 & 09/10 MFGlobal jersey......

But there is still time.


Other little bits of trivia;

The White 'M' was to appear for three years with Man Investments, Man Financial and then Man Group appearing under it.

However, Saracens wanted to introduce the now much loved hooped change shirt in the third year of Man's sponsorship and the large white 'M' would look ugly against the hoops so Saracens convinced Man to drop the white 'M' for the change shirt and it followed that the new black home jersey would therefore have the same logo as the hooped change, hence Man Group plc appeared across front of black shirt with little 'M' tacked in at the end.

....and one final bit of trivia. In the year 07-08 MFGlobal were the main sponsor but as Man Financial had been sold off from Man Group (to create MFGlobal) in mid-July 2007 it was too late to change the name on the shirt so Man Group plc remained on the jersey for 07-08 despite the fact that MFGlobal was the main sponsor.

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
JO'G (IP Logged)
06/09/2013 13:07
Quote:
CK55FEZ
In his defense I think you might have got JW on a bad day (had he just lost?)
I can understand your son's disappointment but I am sure it was a one-0ff.

to be fair it was not long after the RWC and he had a policy of no autographs at all. we knew it and tried the cute kid on his dads shoulders trick

i can sort of understand as when son managed to catch Faz's eye as he just cam off the pitch he thought he just had to do one. Before he has finished with the pen though there were at least 20 kids lined up behind him

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
To Mega Therion (IP Logged)
05/11/2013 11:34
Someone said to me on Sunday that the current change kit looks like someone tried to do a Cambridge University but ran out of blue pen before chucking it in the wash and the blue running. Something like that anyway.

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTMpKHV_mtVeNi9mSYLq3K1i9NvBslw7N8R4UvEbLchopTFrP2k
Eparistera Daimones

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
Atomic Wasp (IP Logged)
05/11/2013 22:26
A nice read this article. smiling smiley

Cheers

Rick


@W2APS on twitter, the chap with the banners and flags.

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
05/11/2013 22:55
Totally agree with you about the away shirt - blue? Ridiculous. What team ever wins in blue? I remember reading not that long ago that stats show that teams which play in red are most commonly victorious.

As for grey - I have never understood the recent predilection for clubs playing in grey - they all look like they are going to a sleepover in their jammies...

Still - our own away kit is I believe only the second worst kit in the premiership this season - the worst by a country mile is Saints - that puce green is quite stomach turning - it reminds me of bogeys and the colour of pus in an infected spot. Whoever came up with that really does need new glasses.... but maybe its a cunning plan to put the opposition off their game!

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
Thrupp artist (IP Logged)
06/11/2013 12:59
Pedantically semantically your home strip is more puce than the Saints change kit - which I reckon can only be described as high visibility yellow. Whereas not my favourite shade I have grown to quite like it because of it's clarity when viewing. However I can understand why you do not like the grey stuff your chaps played in at FG - it does look like an over- washed discount offer and reminded me of the infamous Man U outfit that was only worn once!

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
To Mega Therion (IP Logged)
06/11/2013 13:03
Saints kit must be in homage to those lovely stewards they have at the Gardens

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTMpKHV_mtVeNi9mSYLq3K1i9NvBslw7N8R4UvEbLchopTFrP2k
Eparistera Daimones

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
tpr's headmistress (IP Logged)
06/11/2013 15:45
I think you'll find that 'puce' is a purple colour, which floods my chops when`exercising (people I played squash with thought I may expire).(Sm126)

Those Saints' shirts look like they're made from ectoplasm courtesy of Ghostbusters.smoking smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2013:11:06:15:50:19 by tpr's headmistress.

 
Re: Sartorial Elegance? Saracens kit in the professional era
CK55FEZ (IP Logged)
06/11/2013 18:48
Quote:
Thrupp artist
................... However I can understand why you do not like the grey stuff your chaps played in at FG - it does look like an over- washed discount offer and reminded me of the infamous Man U outfit that was only worn once!

http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Manchester-united-away-shirt-95-96-INFAMOUS-GREY-SHIRT-/00/s/MTYwMFgxMjAw/z/5K8AAMXQiw5RYV-R/$T2eC16N,!)UE9s3wBePgBRYV-RpbTQ~~60_35.JPG

Nothing like 'THAT' united shirt

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