The Jaguares first season in Super Rugby might not have been the runaway success that many were predicting, but there was one facet that the Argentine franchise absolutely smashed out of the park – their utterly stunning jerseys

We’ve rarely had a response like we did to Jaguares’ inaugural shirt designs – to put it mildly, you lot went absolutely heckin’ crazy for them, and rightly so. They were without doubt the nicest jerseys in Super Rugby last year, despite some serious competition, and if not for a very special design it the away shirt would have won Rugby Shirt Of The Year, too. So… how does Nike follow that?

Well, Nike didn’t become the biggest sports apparel brand in the world without knowing a thing or two, and given the ridiculously positive response to last year’s designs, they’d be foolish to rip it up and start again. Instead, they’ve opted for subtle evolution.

So once again we have a moody black home shirt with orange accents, but with a couple of different twists on what we saw with last year’s designs.

Both shirts for 2017 are using a very similar design to the one Nike revealed for the Pumas ahead of this year’s Rugby Championship, and the keen-eyed among you will spot the same tonal curved pinstripes emanating from the bottom of the shirt, and also up the sleeves.

One of the most distinctive features of Nike’s jersey designs since the 2015 World Cup Pumas shirt has been the prominent grip panels that run across the chest, and this year’s Jaguares shirts are no different.

What sets the grip panels on this away shirt apart from previous designs, however, is the way they have been pulled out as a proper, eye-catching design feature.

What’s more, because of the mottled nature of the grip surface, as you can see in our photos, the prominence of the orange can really change depending on how the light catches it, creating a very cool, totally unique optical illusion effect.

Grip panels aside, the only other bit of ornamentation we have on the home shirt is a striking orange insert on the back of the collar, but other than that it’s a sleek, understated design.

Technically speaking, these 2017 designs are the same as the last few Nike Argentina shirts – meaning they’re using the company’s DRI-FIT fabric and utilise the prominent reinforced bonded seams to give greater strength and elasticity – and as you can see, every bit of the design screams ‘yes, we’re worth $75 billion and we can afford to make this shit look good’.

Last year’s away shirt was, to put it mildly an absolute stunner – the bright orange vertical tonal striped design is one of our most beloved jerseys of recent years and it was certainly one of the most eye-catching.

It’s interesting then that for 2017, Nike has decided to tweak that recipe a little bit to give us something that feels very distinct from the 2016 vintage.

The different feel is created by something that we first saw on the Pumas 2016 alternate shirt – namely a top-to-bottom fade. In this case, it starts in the familiar striking orange from last season, but as we move down the jersey this blends into a yellow.

This is to be paired with yellow shorts (as opposed to last season’s black ones), which will come together to give the Jaguares a striking, modern and subtly different secondary look than the  one they were sporting last year.

As with the home shirt we have the same curved pinstripes emanating from the bottom of the jersey and up the sleeves, but the brighter background makes the tonal stripes stand out a lot more than they do on the none more black home.

Interestingly however, one thing that hasn’t changed is the colour of the grip material – it’s similarly orange, but of course looks much more subtle on a complimentary fabric, and is more in keeping with the treatment Nike has used on Pumas shirts past.

Look… you know the deal here. We’ve just spent 600-odd words telling you all the various ways in which these new Jaguares jerseys are cool, innovative and all that jazz, but in truth you knew everything you needed to know the second you clapped eyes on them.

The 2016 Jaguares jerseys were possibly the best debut jerseys we’ve ever seen, and rightly earned a Gold Award for it. This year might not have the ‘out of nowhere brilliance’ that got people so excited about last year’s designs, but we think Nike has refined the recipe to make the 2017 jerseys even better. It’s Gold. Of course it is.

This content was originally published here.