History of the Rugby Jersey

A look back through the journey of the Rugby Jersey – Particularly the last couple of decades.

Rugby Jersey:

A top suitable for playing Rugby, designed to withstand the elements of the game and replicates the brand of a club.


Where it all began:

Looking through the history books we can trace the rugby shirt back to the mid-1800s, first worn by Rugby School. The shirt was created for players to wear and to help distinguish which players played for which team. Fans could also wear them to show their support for the team. The shirt is symbolic to its club.

Rugby School was the first known team to play in a kit consisting of loose-fitting cotton flannels, shirts and caps. The items were too easy to grab and made defending easier with fabric to grab hold of. As fashion developed and synthetic fibres were developed becoming increasingly more accessible the shirts evolved parallel to the sport.


We are about to show you why the year 2003 was massive in the world of rugby, not just for the English. With the game evolving tactically on the pitch and enhanced technology both being used on and off the pitch, rugby shirts needed to take the same step forward. The era of the tight fitting jersey came to life. Composed by a mixture of cotton and polyester, proving to be more comfortable, breathable and sweat removing.

Since 2003, technology in fabrics has gone even further into development, adding grip patches to the shirts. But the major development is dye-sublimation printing. Allowing any colour to be transferred into the fabric meaning designs are unlimited and sponsor logos can be applied with no added cost or risk of faded or damaged/peeled logos.

At Webb Ellis we really do understand the requirements of players, coaches and spectators. Why we know this, the majority of us are still involved in Rugby, as a player, coach and spectator, we have all angles covered. We offer bespoke sublimated shirts and shorts that can be customised to your team’s unique requirements. Adding any sponsor logos to the body and even sleeve of the shirt along your club logo too. No need to worry about the fit of the shirt, whether you are a pro club wanting tight fit shirts, or an amateur level 8, 9, 10 club wanting a more relaxed fit. A recent addition which has had good publicity is the introduction to the ladies fit jersey. We have a range of designs to view and replicate for your club or give our design team a briefing and they can sketch away until you are 100 percent happy

For further details, contact our sales team at michael@webb-ellis.co.uk


We take a look at a few previous British and Irish Lions Rugby Shirts. Starting with Matt Dawson in 1997 against South Africa. 2001 sees Ronan O’Gara and Brian O’Driscoll in Australia (lost series 2-1).

2005 where Sir Clive Woodward took control of the ship in New Zealand (lost 3-0)

2009 saw the Lions lose the series in South Africa 2-1 (Joe Worsley celebrating a 3rd Test victory)

2013 the Lion were victorious in Australia under Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton


1997 2001 05 2009 2013