With the pre-season programme underway, it is the time of year when the kit for the new term finds its way into club stores and is issued to squads.
Players await “stash day” with great anticipation, while commercial departments tantalise fans with partial reveals in burlesque fashion.
Typically, the transition to a new kit maker drives the greatest level of excitement – both Saracens’ move from KooGa to Nike in 2010 and Wales’s change from Reebok to Under Armour a couple of years earlier come to mind. Wasps’ 2012 move from Canterbury to Kukri brought a different type of reaction.
There has been a mixed response so far this cycle. Scotland raised the curtain on their new shirt which was unsurprisingly little changed, save for a purple and white armband on each sleeve.
It is perhaps lucky that the national team has entered an era of optimism as the Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Bath theme would not have provided the buoyancy required to keep them afloat a few seasons ago.
Most teams are yet to make the big reveal although there is a certain inevitability about what some jerseys will look like. There will likely be hoops for Midlanders Leicester and Northampton Saints, with both uniforms usually successfully balancing the clubs’ histories with the innovation of modern-day clothiers.
Gloucester will be wearing something red, while fashion bloggers are probably not shaking with excitement ahead of the grand unveiling of Newcastle’s home shirt. The Falcons’ kit supplier Gilbert is better known for its prowess in ball development than its design studio’s reputation as a barometer of what’s au courant.
Players probably have not seen what they will be donning come the season’s openers either and will be squeezing the last signs of life from the fraying threads of the previous term’s garments.
The travails of the off-season will be further ingraining dust into the now-magnolia vests that had once been brilliant white, while the repetitive laundering of black T-shirts will be turning them an ever lighter shade of brown.
Come issue day, kit men across the land will distribute holdalls brimming with all manner of rugby paraphernalia for the campaign ahead.
The newly promoted academy will dive in with the eagerness of a child at Christmas, while the old heads will show greater ambivalence, more concerned that they will finally have to dispose of the vintage of ‘07.