Five of the worst kit clashes seen in rugby ahead of Ireland v South Africa

Dylan Coetzee
Kit Clash: Ireland and South Africa battle during a Test in 2017.

The 2022 Autumn Nations Series weekend is loaded with quality fixtures headlined by the blockbuster Test between Ireland and South Africa.

Unfortunately, much of the build-up in the media and from fans has been clouded by an incredibly frustrating kit clash for the Dublin Test as the Irish Rugby Football Union confirmed that Andy Farrell’s men would be wearing their away strip to avoid a clash of colours.

Ironically, the away strip looks even more similar to the Springboks’ green, meaning a kit clash is inevitable. There is absolutely no logic to this, and it is unacceptable to consciously go into a game knowing there will be a shirt clash.

When two kits are too similar, it takes away from the game the outrageous skill sets and general interest as fans work out who is who. Never mind the players and match officials trying to make solid decisions in a fraction of a second. It is mind-blowing how an alternative has not been found.

With that in mind, Planet Rugby looked for five games that featured a kit clash ahead of this weekend’s action.

Ireland v South Africa – 2017

The worst part about the clash of kits this weekend is that it happened on the last occasion these two teams met and has been approved despite open complaints from the fans and media.

It is obvious how close the colours are, particularly at speed, as was noticed in 2017. However, despite the colour issues with the kits, it was a beautiful day to be an Irish fan as their side destroyed a poor Springbok team 38-3.

Perhaps the IRFU is banking on the momentum from the last kit clash. But, jokes aside, a kit clash at Test level is painful to see.

Bulls v Highlanders – Super Rugby, 2020

The first thing that springs to mind is; how on earth was this approved? This looks like a training match with an extended squad where the better teams need to try out their strike plays against a complete opposition.

At least in this clash, changes were made at half-time, with the Bulls changing their shirts, allowing for much easier viewing with little to no confusion. The Pretoria men would go on to win the clash 38-13 against the Highlanders thanks to a second-half Rosco Speckman hat-trick.

Cardiff v Glasgow – Champions Cup, 2018

Not as bad as the Bulls’ situation, but still absolutely unacceptable. Cardiff and Glasgow Warriors’ kits clashed in the Champions Cup and met heavy backlash.

The Champions Cup is arguably the most elite level of club rugby globally, and a clash of kits is unacceptable. Players, coaches and commentators were rightly upset, and a formal apology was made.

Cardiff managed to claim the battle of the blues on that day, running away with a 29-12 win.

Brumbies v Highlanders – Super Rugby, 2021

Super Rugby with another game where both sides are wearing the same colours. This match was a full two years after the Bulls’ kit clash, and one would think the lesson would be learnt after one occasion.

In this scrum, the referee would have said, ‘penalty to white’ and both forward packs would be celebrating! The Highlanders managed to make the most of the situation, sprinting off to a 33-12 win over their Australian rivals.

Red Dolphins v The Skyactivs – Japan League One Division Two, 2022

Saved the worst for last. This game in the Japanese second division could be the worst kit clash we have seen across sports. The major difference is the navy blue for one side and black for the other. All those red markings and patterns will look like a blur at pace.

Genuinely difficult to count how many players are from each team in this one. Still, the game progressed, and somehow the players could work out who was who as the Red Dolphins took a dominant 43-14 win on the day.

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