Why Are Rugby Shirts Made of Polyester?


Rugby is a team sport played with an egg-shaped ball that is thrown and kicked. Players wear uniforms of shirts, shorts, high socks and cleats. Rugby shirts usually have the team logo or badge on the front and the player's number on the back. They are usually brightly colored and are often seen in solid, striped or quartered patterns. Rugby-style shirts are often worn by non-players for a fashionable and sporty look.


  • Rugby shirts were traditionally made of cotton, as it was the cheapest and easiest fabric to use. The shirts had collars with buttons, but the collars were much stiffer than those on polo shirts, and the buttons were made of rubber to prevent them from popping off if the collar was pulled by another player. As synthetic fabrics became cheaper, they began to be used in the production of rugby shirts as well to make clothing for other sports. When rugby became professional in 1995 and the game developed, polyester shirts for players began to become the norm.


  • Polyester shirts are preferred for competitive rugby because the material is shiny and slick, and thus difficult for opposing players to grab when a player is running. For the same reason, many modern polyester rugby shirts are designed to fit tighter to the players' bodies and have smaller or no collars. Another benefit is that polyester is better in wet or muddy conditions, which are common in rugby. Cotton jerseys, when wet and muddy, become much heavier and can become cumbersome when a player is running. It is also possible to incorporate insulation into polyester, meaning that shirts can help keep players either warm or cool, depending on the weather.


  • Polyester is both wrinkle- and stain-resistant, which makes care easier, but rugby shirts still become very dirty and need frequent laundering. Polyester can be machine-washed and dried, and does not typically need ironing. When you dry your rugby shirt and if you need to iron it, use low temperatures to help the fabric last longer.


  • Although polyester is relatively inexpensive, 100% polyester rugby shirts tend to be more expensive than cotton or polyester-cotton blend shirts. Polyester fabric can feel uncomfortable because it is man-made rather than natural. Also, even with due care during laundering, polyester can still wear out more quickly than cotton.


  • For practical reasons and to help performance, shirts for professional, competitive rugby players are usually made from polyester. However, not all rugby shirts are made from polyester. Shirts for lower-level teams, replica shirts for fans and rugby shirts worn simply for fashion are often made from either cotton or a polyester-cotton blend because fabrics these tend to be more comfortable for everyday use.

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  • Photo Credit rugby player image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com
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