No self-respecting rugby player would ever wear the thick, long sleeved cotton polos – the kind originally worn at the inception of the sport way back in the 1800s. They now don sweat-wicking technical shirts engineered for breathability and intense gameplay, not collared shirts made from organic fabric. And honestly – that is totally fine by us because we’re more than glad to have them.
While the rugby shirt may be incredibly outdated on the pitch, they’re a perfect pick for cold weather casual wear. They’re thick enough to be an ideal base layer for fall and winter, while also managing not to be too stifling when those Indian summers pop up. In addition to these features, the loose cut of the shirt provides a welcome change in pace from the closer fitting styles so many men’s shirts have these days. This last benefit of the rugby shirt may actually be one of the reasons why they’re somewhat hard to come by. On looking, we were surprised to see that very few menswear brands still make the casual wear stalwart. Lucky for you, we did some searching and were able to round up ten of what we think are the best rugby shirts out there.
Patagonia Sender Rugby Shirt
The Patagonia rugby shirt is nothing short of legendary. Way back in the 1970s, founder Yvon Chouinard brought back some rugby shirts from a climbing trip to Scotland and began selling them to climbers alongside the hardware he made as a blacksmith. The shirts were tougher than anything else out there (much like rugby players themselves), making them perfect for the rigors of backpacking and climbing. Sales took off and, according to Chounarid’s own telling, they helped spark a minor fashion craze in the states – paving the way for the outdoor brand we know today as Patagonia. Oddly enough, Patagonia doesn’t make these shirts anymore, but you can still find them on second hand shops like eBay or Grailed.
J.Crew Rugby Shirt
This shirt from the kings of prep-style, J.Crew, are classic in a couple of different senses. Rather than try and re-design the long sleeved polo, the Northeastern clothing brand instead dug into their archives and pulled out the very same style that was perfected by their designers back in the 1980s. The handsome shirt is made from a heavy cotton fabric, features long sleeves, rubber buttons, and a bottom hem that is slightly longer in the back.
Land’s End Long Sleeve Rugby Shirt
While rugby shirts are rarely if ever worn by professional rugby players, Land’s End likes to point out that theirs is still built with the sport in mind. Their shirt, which comes in four different colors, is made from a heavy cotton jersey fabric, features ‘tennis tails’ (a bottom hem that is longer in the back than in the front), side vents, and reinforced shoulder seams that will hold up to all kinds of use and abuse. A solid, broken-in shirt built for laid back fall days.
Under Armour Supply Long Sleeve Polo
If the idea of a long-sleeved polo is appealing to you but you aren’t quite interested in that old-school look – this pick from Under Armour Supply should be the perfect fit. Rather than going for that heavy fabric feel, this shirt is made from a pique polyester that is cut to fit closer to the body. The pique mimics the feel and look of the a cotton shirt, but manages to be more breathable, making it great for bike commuting or walking to work. Other than the change in fabric and fit, the shirt features all the same marks of a polo shirt, including the three button placket and solid collar.
Orvis Solid Rugby Shirt
Stripes aren’t necessarily a must on a rugby shirt. Take, for instance, this one from Orvis. Made right here in the USA, the long sleeved polo is constructed from a solid green 10-ounce jersey fabric. The only change in color on the rugby shirt is the clean, white collar and placket. As a result, the shirt has a classic, fresh, and almost gentlemanly vibe to it.
GANT Long Sleeved Rugby Shirt
A classic take on the rugby shirt if we’ve ever seen one. This pure cotton jersey boasts a fine twill collar, an uneven hem (longer at the back), embroidery on the chest, and allover stripes. While this one definitely sits on the higher end of the spectrum, it comes with an attention to detail (and variety of coloring) that makes it worth the price.
Noah Armbart Rugby Shirt
While allover stripes are most definitely the standard style for rugby shirts, they are far from the rule. This pick from Noah features stripes only along the elbows, a clean white collar, and placket. As a result the shirt has a somewhat sharper, but still traditional look. In addition to the decidedly different design approach, this rugby shirt’s fabric comes in a little lighter than others on the list at just 8-ounces.
Kent & Curwen Appliqued Cotton Rugby
Unlike most all of the other picks on this list, Kent and Curwen actually used to make rugby shirts and athletic wear for British sports teams way back in the early 20th century. The brand has changes substantially since then, but it hasn’t forgotten its roots. Take, for instance, this rugby shirt. Made from a black cotton fabric and featuring a rose motif on the breast (apparently an image commonly associate with the English national soccer team), it has a classic and effortlessly cool look to it.
Acne Studios Nichols Face Shirt
A traditional take on the rugby from Acne Studios. This particular unisex long sleeved polo shirt boasts a looser, tall cut to it. As a result, the shirt can be worn as a base layer, but is equally comfortable thrown on as a mid or top layer.
Thom Browne Long Sleeve Polo Rugby
Small details go a long way. This simple rugby shirt from Thom Brown features basic all around navy on its cotton body and an elongated placket down from the white collar. The left arm features a band of 4-bars that almost escape your attention on first look. It is a small distinction, but one that goes a long way in separating it from the pack.
15 Best Polo Shirts For Men
Love the casual look of the rugby but don’t quite dig those big, long sleeves? Take a scroll through our list of the best polo shirts for men.