The 2020 Major League Rugby season is fast approaching which means it is time for one of the biggest announcements of the off-season:
The 2020 kit unveiling.
All 12 MLR clubs released their kit in a league wide announcement on Friday afternoon. All 12 captains recently got together in Las Vegas to promote the Vegas Rugby Weekend and the 2020 season. Of course, a major piece of any league promotion is the kits.
Entering 2020, Paladin Sports has replaced X-Blades as MLR’s official kit supplier. Paladin has plenty of experience in supplying quality rugby kits to top leagues around the world. Most notably Hawke’s Bay, North Harbour, Northland, and Wellington in the Mitre 10 Cup. For North American fans, they may be familiar with the brand as the kit supplier of the USA Hawks Rugby League.
The unveiling marked the first time we got to see Paladin’s take on the Major League Rugby sides. To mark the reveal, I decided to review each of the kits. Up first; the Eastern Conference.
Rugby ATL enters Major League Rugby as one of 3 expansion teams for the 2020 season. The name “Rugby ATL” has not been overly well received by fans. It is a bizarre name, but the rest of their branding has been pretty great. The logo is simple, but sharp and has looks great on a lot of the apparel the club has released up until this point. The most important piece of apparel will always be the kit.
Simply put, Rugby ATL’s kit is fantastic! Both the black and the white kits are accented nicely by a clean striping pattern on the arms. The pattern itself resembles the top of the Rugby ATL logo and is replicated on the socks to give the kit a terrific complete look.
Again, the logo looks great here like it does on all the apparel. It stands out beautifully on both the white and black kit. What makes this kit truly stand out is the sublimated map of Atlanta across the chest. It’s a great design feature that gives a classic looking uniform a truly unique feel. This is a great first offering from one of MLR’s newest clubs.
Old Glory DC
I have been a big fan of Old Glory DC’s branding as they have built up to their inaugural MLR campaign. The name is great and the logo is great. The kit continues that trend. Old Glory played a handful of games last season wearing an Adidas kit and their new Paladin look is not a big departure from that.
The design is a simple, yet classic look. The home kit is a dark blue with red accents on the collar, arms, and side of the shorts. The away is simply inverted with a white base, red collar, and blue accents on the arms and shorts. Both kits feature a Cuisine Solutions sponsorship at the centre. Old Glory will be taking the pitch with a solid overall look.
New England Free Jacks
I’m a simple man. If I see an old school collar on a rugby kit, I instantly love it. The New England Free Jacks will enter MLR for the 2020 season and will bring one of rugby’s classic features to the league. The kit as a whole is great. I like the colours and the stripping pattern works well. In my opinion, it’s the collar that elevates the overall look of the kit from great to the best in the league.
It’s a shame they did not do the same for the away kit. The collar only being present on the home kit is an interesting choice. Everything about the home kit is classic rugby. The away kit departs from that style. The most disappointing thing is that the collar is gone. However, I’m not liking the mismatched arm colours either. The Free Jacks home kit may be the best in the league, but the away drops to near the bottom.
The strangest part about NOLA’s kit is that the white is the home when everyone else in the Eastern Conference has a white road kit. Just seems odd to be the complete opposite of everyone else. As for the kit itself, NOLA Gold are a team that benefits from a great colour scheme. The gold and white combination is something that feels unique to NOLA.
The kit is not a major departure from last season although there are still some changes. Gold is still the primary base colour, but instead of traditional hoops, they have opted for a pattern unique to their squad. I don’t hate the pattern, but I’m not completely in love with it either. However, it could grow on me when I see the club actually take the pitch.
It would be interesting to see a rendition of the kit without that pattern. If the pattern is gone, NOLA could have been left with a classic look in a great colour scheme. I think this is one of those kits that will grow on me the more I see it. I suppose that is a bit of a downgrade though, since I loved their look in the first two seasons.
Rugby United New York
Rugby United New York plays their home games at MCU Park, which is a baseball stadium. So, as the saying goes “when in Rome''. RUNY will enter their 2nd MLR season wearing a kit that is clearly inspired by New York’s two Major League Baseball teams. Both the Yankees and Mets utilize pinstripes in the uniforms and it appears that RUNY will be following in that tradition.
The away (white) kit has strong Yankee vibes to it. This could go along way to fostering some strong rivalries in New England and Toronto since those fans already hate the Yankees. Actually, who doesn’t hate the Yankees? To be honest I like the design. After all the Yankee pinstripes are one of the most iconic uniforms in all of sports. However, I feel like it would be better served as an awesome one-off promotional night kit, not part of the main set.
The home kit is where things get interesting. RUNY’s traditional blue and orange colour scheme returns and the hoops from last year are also back. RUNY’s 2019 kit was great! Which is why it boggles my mind that they added pinstripes under the hoops. Hoops look traditional and great. Pinstripes also look solid as demonstrated by their away kit. Pinstripes and hoops combined? That looks very odd. Just pick one.
The Toronto Arrows classic design returns for their 2nd season. The Arrows home kit remains unchanged from last year. The home kit is solid blue with a white collar on white shorts and blue socks. It is a traditional design that evokes a sense of rugby heritage. The kit was received well by Arrows fans last year, so I like that it was not tinkered with.
If you are trying to build a brand, you want your kit to be recognizable. By making minimal changes, it helps people to recognize the brand.
The Arrows did make a few changes to the white kit. A blue stripe has been added to the chest as well as adding some blue to the end of the sleeve. This a great addition to the kit and makes it stand out more while maintaining that traditional design. The Canadian flag on the back of both kits is a great touch too. The Arrows also get bonus points for not only having a sponsorship, but for blending the logo into the design of the kit in an aesthetically pleasing way.
What do you think of MLR’s Eastern Conference kits? Do you agree with my opinion or do you want me to go get my eyes checked? Let me know and don’t forget to follow @Bressette4 and @LaymansSports on twitter for all your MLR news in the build-up to the 2020 season.
All Photos are courtesy of Darren Zemanek