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Ralph's Rugby Scrum

  • Jared Paul Stern

Rugby Shirt

The 100-year-old company that invented the rugby shirt has something to say about Ralph Lauren's attempted hijacking of the game. Canterbury of New Zealand, established in 1904, made the first rugby jersey for a friend of one of the founders, an avid player. The rest was sartorial history. Fast forward to 2005, when Lauren launched his Rugby line replete with skull and crossbones imagery lifted from the team insignia of British educational landmark the Rugby School, where the sport was first played in 1823.

Canterbury, in the midst of beefing up its own off-field offerings and inking an exclusive licensing deal with the school, was beaten at its own game, so to speak, while Lauren set about trying to grab the term “rugby” for his exclusive use with aggressive legal tactics. Better late than never, Canterbury has rolled out its own line of blazers, sweaters and so on bearing the Rugby School crests and skull logos, which not only have one up on Ralph's ersatz 'authenticity' but look damn good to boot.

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Canterbury CEO Hap Klopp tells Kempt. “That being said, [Lauren's] lawsuit to try to hijack the ownership of the word 'rugby' for his line and stores is laughable since it predates them by several decades.” What say we settle this on the playing field, fellas?


Related: Tommy: 'Ralph Who?'