Rugby Jersey's or shirts as they are now more commonly known, were until recently always manufactured from cotton. However, with the advent of cheaper far eastern manufacturing the more affluent teams now wear polyester and lesser sides a mixture of cotton and synthetic fabrics. The latest shirts are figure hugging with little or no collars or buttons they are also designed to remove the water from the body quickly to aid cooling. The first examples of these shirts were worn by New Zealand and England during the season before the 2003 World Cup. The designers also planned that they would be harder to grip and tear resistant but several England players showed that under the tough conditions of a rugby park the first versions were not quite as resistant as hoped. The technology of the shirt is still developing and it will be interesting to see what innovations if any come forth over the next couple of years.
Jersey and Kit
We know of one original International shirt which is still available to view and that is the white cotton England shirt worn in the first International between Scotland and England in 1871. The shirt is part of an exhibit in the RFU museum at Twickenham stadium.
Today the majority of team shirts in the top echelon countries club teams now carry sponsor logos this even applies to amateur clubs who rely on sponsor monies to support their clubs, these logos appear on the front, back, sleeves and even collars they vary in size with the largest being the main sponsor. Replica shirts from all the major clubs are available to the general public and popular as casual attire due to there good quality and style.
Numbering on Shirts
Shirts are usually numbered 1 to 15 for the starting fifteen and then 16 to 22 or 25 for the substitutes. Substitutes in rugby are governed by the game being played and can be as few as 3 or maximum of 8. The numbering system has evolved rather in the same way as with other team sports and apart from a period when some clubs used letters Leicester probably being the best known numbering has now become the norm. The Premier sides will usually now also have the players name above their position number for the 1st fifteen on the field of play.