The iconic rugby shirt has always been connoted with preppy style, but its history is much deeper than that. Sure, these tops are stylish enough for a casual outing, but they remain sturdy enough to tackle the field — or, more accurately, your opponent on the field. Although the polo-adjacent silhouette once tailored toward pro-league paddocks and Ivy League campus quads has more recently been adopted by high-end labels, we can’t help but admire the classic iterations that made it so popular.
A prototypical rugby top is defined by several things that separate it from the similar polo shirt. Generally, you’ll see a two-or-three button placket and collar made from non-ribbed cotton twill in a contrasting color from the rugby shirt’s body, usually white. Rugby shirts are also stitched from heavy-gauge knit, not pique, and they’re engineered to take a beating. Finally, rugby shirts are traditionally doused in playful palettes executed via broad stripes of multiple colors. So, whether you want to harp on the classic silhouette’s trendy revival or simply have always appreciated the timeless preppy athletic style, our guide to the best rugby shirts for men will have you ready for your next scrum.
UNIQLO Rugby Polo Shirt
The unavoidable Japanese label‘s take on this European classic checks all the boxes: stylish, comfortable, and, most of all, authentic. The sturdy top features a classic three-button placket and a wrinkle-resistant collar that makes maintaining your look an absolute breeze. Most of all, it’s impressively sturdy, so it serves as an ideal base layer for the summertime.
J.Crew Short-sleeve rugby shirt
J.Crew knows a thing or two about east coast prep style, especially when you account for its Big Apple stomping grounds. Its archival pick was designed in the ‘80s, only to be revitalized in the 2010s without changing a single thing. The short-sleeved option is rounded out with a twill placket and rubber buttons, making for a nostalgia-inducing choice at an affordable price that doesn’t skimp on style.
Flint and Tinder Heavyweight Rugby Polo
As we mentioned earlier, the prototypical rugby shirt has a substantial weight to it, making this hefty choice from Flint and Tinder a no-brainer. The Huckberry house brand’s take is crafted from 100% cotton jersey so it remains incredibly light and breathable, albeit thick and durable. Then, it’s rounded out with a chic corozo button placket, making it versatile enough to wear to lunch with your favorite pair of chinos or with lounge pants if you’re in for a long flight.
Patagonia Work Rugby Shirt
Thanks to Patagonia’s Worn Wear marketplace, the outdoor brand’s rugged take on the rugby shirt is easy to pick up. The sturdy shirt is sustainably crafted from a blend of industrial hemp and organic cotton, then rounded out with four-hole metal buttons, a pencil holder, and a wide collar for a heavy-duty look.
Withernot Ulysses Rugby Shirt
If you’re looking for one of the most traditional options imaginable, Withernot is a perfect brand to consider. The up-and-coming brand’s heavyweight Ulysses Rugby is crafted from 10.5-ounce cotton with a 12-gauge knit, ensuring that it’s built to last as long you need it to. For an added touch of authenticity, it’s inspired by ‘70s-and-‘80s-era climbing rugby shirts that have been donned by the likes of countless celebrities, going to show it’s good enough for anyone and everyone.
Filson Pro Rugby Shirt
Like anything Filson crafts, the Pro Rugby Shirt boasts a utilitarian feel — more importantly, it’s made to withstand a battle on the professional field. The heritage brand constructs it from stretchy, heavyweight cotton for the perfect combination of freedom of movement and ruggedness. It’s finished off with a set of rubber buttons and circular-knit cuffs for a touch of authenticity.
Polo Ralph Lauren The Iconic Rugby Shirt
Ralph Lauren is one of the fashion industry’s leading names, leaving no surprise as to why the designer’s Polo brand appears here. Polo Ralph Lauren’s Iconic Rugby Shirt speaks for itself, managing to blend preppy fashion with sporty apparel to a point that it sets a standard for the silhouette. It boasts all the traditional elements that make one of these tops an undeniable classic, like a white-pointed collar and concealed pocket. There are two collars to choose from, either of which will age gracefully.
Wax London Beck Rugby Shirt
Wax London excels at crafting buttoned tops like this and typically pulls it off using incredibly fine textiles that outdo most other brands. The Beck is one of the newer additions to its catalog, having hit the scene this past fall. The casual top is stylish enough to be dressed up for a formal occasion and simple enough to wear for an afternoon coffee run. For added incentive, the sustainable piece is crafted from full-on organic cotton.
Brooks Brothers Lightweight Striped Rugby Shirt
You might be more familiar with Brooks Brothers for its endless array of suit jackets and iconic dress shirts, but its casual attire is just as notable (and stylish). The Lightweight Striped Rugby Shirt is the perfect long-sleeve top to tackle a summer breeze, primarily thanks to its midweight makeup that is the perfect blend of breathable and hefty. Plus, it’s available in three bright colors that you can manage to pair with some chic white pants from the American heritage brand.
Carhartt WIP Henwick Rugby Shirt
Like anything from Carhartt WIP, the sublabel’s Henwick Rugby serves as the perfect bridge between streetwear and workwear. The midweight option is put together from yarn-dyed cotton jersey material to assure you that it’s built to last, then rounded out with a twill collar and ribbed cuffs to make it as timeless as it is sturdy. If you prefer a more vibrant option but are still in the market for durability, then this is an ideal pick-up.
J.Press Classic Stripe Rugby Shirt
J.Press is as traditional as college prep fashion can get. Founded on Yale’s campus in 1903, the New York-based label’s Classic Stripe Rugby Shirt features underarm gussets, a horizontal striped motif, and a classic fit. Like most of the pricier options you’ll stumble upon in this category, it is crafted from a heavyweight cotton jersey and engineered to stay intact.
Todd Snyder Heavy Jersey Rugby
Todd Snyder’s take on the rugby shirt is cut from the same stylish cloth as the rest of the designer label’s classics-inspired catalog. The Heavy Jersey Rugby is crafted from plush Portuguese cotton that doesn’t skimp on sturdiness. While it features archetypal elements like a cotton twill collar and rubber buttons on the placket, the New York-bred clothier made this garment fit like your favorite sweater. It’s finished off with a ribbed waistband, a buttoned chest pocket, and a pair of ribbed cuffs. All things considered, this subtle rugby is one of the best choices to wear on colder days.
Norse Projects Ruben Bold Stripe Rugby Shirt
Norse Projects‘ minimalist portfolio unsurprisingly features a handsome option in this category. This boxy-fitting garment is crafted from cotton jersey material for a soft hand feel, then cut with a wide fit for a relaxed, modern look. It is finished off with an embroidered embellishment at the chest and a head-turning green-and-white-stripe pattern from top to bottom.
Rowing Blazers Blocks Stripe Rugby
If you’re a proponent of the rugby shirt’s rapid revival, then you can thank Rowing Blazers and its cheeky take on classic east coast prep style for managing to have a hand in it. The New York-bred label offers over a dozen different takes on the timeless top, with this choice proving to be one of its most stylish. The Blocks Stripe Rugby comes available in ten striking color combos that will all surely serve as the loudest in the room. Like all of RB’s rugby shirts, it is crafted from heavyweight 14oz cotton and rounded out with a traditional three-button placket.
Noah Quarter-Zip Rugby Pullover
Noah is one of the streetwear world’s most versatile labels, constantly finding a way to blend casual coolness with a touch of classed-up preppiness. The New York clothier’s Quarter-Zip Rugby Pullover is merely one example of how it manages to pull that off, mixing traditional rugby elements with more daring touches like a kangaroo pocket and a zippered placket. The Canadian-made top is crafted from 8-ounce cotton, then rounded out with engineered stripes, a sturdy twill collar, and metal eyelet vents at the underarm for maximum breathability.
The 16 Best Knitted Polos
If you can’t get enough of the retro look that’s got the fashion world in a chokehold, you should get some extra help from our guide to the best knitted polos.