A rugby shirt, often referred to as a rugby jersey, is a shirt worn by players of rugby union or rugby league. It usually has short sleeves, though long sleeves are common as well. Rugby shirts have a buttoned opening at the top, in a similar style to polo shirts but with a stiffer collar. Modern rugby shirts often have a very small collar so as to provide less material for a potential tackler to latch onto (even though such an action is illegal in a game). Rugby shirts traditionally have rubber buttons so that they would, if pulled on in a game, come undone rather than pop off.
Rugby shirts, like most sports jerseys, will usually have a logo on the chest and a number on the back, though shirts not meant for competitive play will usually forgo the number. Labels of sponsorship are common, and generally appear on the abdominal area of the shirt. A traditional design of rugby shirt consists of five or six horizontal stripes or “hoops” in alternating colours. A number of football teams have adopted this pattern, such as Celtic, Queens Park Rangers, Reading, Flamengo, Sporting Lisbon and, formerly, Parma. Football shirts by contrast traditionally have vertical stripes.
Rugby shirts were traditionally made out of cotton, but as synthetic fabrics became cheaper they have become incorporated into rugby shirts. The two most common materials are a mix between cotton and polyester (many of these shirts are meant for supporter use, though they can be used in a rugby game), and pure polyester (these shirts are generally designed for game use).
The rugby shirt has, in numerous cultures, become a popular fashion item, with many clothing manufacturers producing rugby styles shirts, with the distinctive collar and hooped or squared design, which do not represent an actual club.