Around 1997 Canterbury brought out some fantastic Super Rugby shirts including the jerseys for Auckland Blues, the Hurricanes, Waikato Chiefs and this one for the Otago Highlanders. All of these shirts used the fabric developed by Canterbury called Temex, which was specifically designed for Super Rugby and apparently offered superior moisture management and breathability. It may well have done but the designs of the shirts were fantastic.
Everybody will have their favourite not least if you are a supporter of that particular club. We are however focusing on this Highlanders shirt (because thats what it was, not the players!) as it brought about an amazing turnaround in fortunes for the side over the 3 years they wore it.
In 1997 the side finished bottom of the Super 12, winning 3 games and losing 8. They had a negative points difference of 110 and gained 17 points, 2 fewer than their closest rivals, the Waikato Chiefs
In 1998 the Highlanders finished 4th in the table. They had won 7 games and lost 4 with a points difference of plus 64 gaining 34 points. They therefore qualified for the semi-finals for the first time, losing to reigning champions the Auckland Blues, 37-26.
The following season they came 3rd in the table. They won 8 games and lost 3 with a points difference of plus 77 and a total of 35 points. They went on to win their semi final beating the Stormers 33-18 in Cape Town. earning the right to host the final. They hosted the Crusaders at Carisbrook in the second successive all-New Zealand final. The game was billed as ‘The Party at Tony Brown’s House’, however the Highlanders lost in an enthralling encounter, 24-19.
The following season in the year 2000, had they kept the shirt they would have gone one better but ditched it for a far less memorable design and came 3rd in the table and lost the semi final to the eventual winners, the Crusaders. The following year they came 5th
So the shirt must have transformed the Otago Highlanders players, thats what I think anyway!!
Which is your favourite Super Rugby shirt?