NRL 1 year ago

Are there too many jerseys in the NRL?

  • Are there too many jerseys in the NRL?

    GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 08: Blake Austin of the Raiders during the round six NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Canberra Raiders at Cbus Super Stadium on April 8, 2017 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jason O'Brien/Getty Images)

  • Are there too many jerseys in the NRL?

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22: NRL players pose in their new club playing jerseys along with the Auckland Nines trophy during the NRL Auckland Nines Jersey Launch at Dick Smith on January 22, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Jerseys are a big part of the NRL’s merchandise campaign. Every couple of years, teams refresh their jerseys and it’s always fun to see (and argue) about which team has the best/worst design.

Most teams have a set number of jerseys:

·        Auckland Nines (usually the most “creative” and divisive amongst fans)

·        Home

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·        Away

·        Alternate

·        Themed rounds (Marvel Heroes/Indigenous/Anzac Day/Women In League/individual club anniversaries or milestones)

Usually, teams can’t go wrong with throwback jerseys: Canberra, Brisbane, St. George-Illawarra, Manly, Penrith and Parramatta (to name a few) have reverted to classic designs, which are popular with fans who grew up in the original era.

At times it seems there are too many jerseys to choose from, which – at $160 full price – can get quite expensive for fans who want every jersey.

From rounds four to six, Canberra wore three separate jerseys. In the round four game against Brisbane they wore the Iron Fist-themed jersey; in round five against Parramatta they wore a special members jersey and against Gold Coast in round six they wore their new dark blue, grey and green away jersey (easily the most un-Canberra jersey we’ve seen in ages). Add to that the new Indigenous jersey and it seriously feels like overkill.

Brisbane recently brought back their old Super League jersey and their mid-nineties Harlequin jersey, though these seem to be occasional jerseys. Both were of an era when Brisbane were winning premierships, so fans probably appreciate the reminder, especially if they didn't get around to buying the original jerseys. They're a far sight better than the Eastern Suburbs "double V" jersey worn a couple years back.

Themed rounds are usually designed to raise awareness (like Canberra’s Ricky Stuart Foundation jersey), so they get a pass, but the Marvel Heroes round is harder to justify. Yes, it was fun at first, but most heroes have been rotated between teams (Captain America, Spider Man etc), though new heroes were added this year (Ant Man, Rocket Racoon etc). What does the Marvel Heroes round achieve? Marvel isn’t exactly short of publicity, with a rolling schedule of movies planned until at least 2020. So why have this tie-in? Most of the heroes used are already well known or – like Iron Fist– are about to be.

Is this where the line between jersey variety and cynical marketing tool gets crossed?

Of course, teams should have their usual Nines, Home and Away jerseys, but when the themed jerseys start to outnumber the traditional jerseys, then we have a problem.

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