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For most men that aren’t from the British Isles, the particulars of rugby are largely a mystery. It’s brutal, involves what looks like a football, and, perhaps most of all, boldly striped jerseys. While we can’t say much about the sport’s merits, we can heartily endorse rugby shirts.
The long-sleeved, usually three-button placket silhouette shares a lot of stylistic DNA with polos (another British athletic uniform that became a menswear mainstay) but rugby shirts are distinguished by a few details: They’re traditionally rendered in a heavy-gauge cotton jersey woven with thick, alternating stripes and finished with a contrasting white collar. Think of them as an even sportier cousin of the polo and, given their weight, an ideal layer for brisk spring weather.
A favorite of preppy traditionalists, rugby shirts have moved beyond the country club in recent years. The style has been co-opted by streetwear brands and high fashion houses alike, yielding a broad range of riffs on the classic. Here are 15 of our favorites to sport this season.
Aspesi Japanese Cotton Knit Rugby Shirt
Best Overall Rugby Shirt
Knitted from Japanese cotton yarn, Aspesi’s rugby is more elevated than the usual jersey iterations but just as breathable. And in the timeless combo of navy, red, and white, it’s an unimpeachable classic.
YMC Up and Under Poplin-Trimmed Striped Merino Wool Rugby Shirt
Best Wool Rugby Shirt
Sturdy yet breathable cotton or cotton blends are pretty much the standard material for rugby shirts, which is why they’re a springtime staple. But for brisk days and chilly nights, you’re going to want something insulating. Enter this soft merino wool option from YMC to keep you warm.
Brooks Brothers Sueded Cotton Chest Stripe Rugby
Best Lightweight Rugby Shirt
Leave it to Brooks Brothers to render the Ivy style classic to a T. With a jaunty combo of pink and navy blue with a crisp white collar and cuffs, it’s just the thing to enliven off-duty tees and jeans.
Onia Concealed Quarter-Zip Rugby Shirt
Best Everyday Rugby Shirt
Onia is primarily known for making some of the best styles for beachside activities. Its swimsuits, linen shirts, and breathable shorts are made of the highest quality and feature interesting details. The same can be said of the brand’s rugby shirt, which is made of a lightweight cotton and is designed with a hidden quarter-zip instead of buttons. This means it’s easier to take off before you jump in the ocean. But if you don’t plan on finding yourself by a large body of water, feel free to wear this sleek and comfortable style anywhere you want.
Pop Trading Company Neutral Logo Striped Rugby Shirt
Best Casual Rugby Shirt
Hardy cotton jersey and a relaxed cut give Pop Trading Company’s rugby shirt a knockabout casualness that’s true to the style’s roots. Still, this one’s too nice to sully on the pitch; match it to cargos and brown loafers for less violent weekend outings.
Ralph Lauren Classic Fit Plaid Jersey Rugby Shirt
Best Plaid Rugby Shirt
Ralph Lauren has doubled down on preppy style, marrying a rugby shirt and plaid plaid. All those country club connotations are best contrasted with some streetwear irreverence—more Air Force 1s than Aldens.
Rowing Blazers ’70s Stripe Rugby Shirt
Best Retro-Inspired Rugby Shirt
Despite its commitment to the jackets for which it’s named, Rowing Blazers is also a reliable resource for top-notch rugby shirts. The brand offers an array of variations on the classic stripes, but we’re partial to this ’70s-inspired model, made of heavy-duty cotton.
Givenchy Logo Cotton Rugby Shirt
Best Logo Rugby Shirt
Designer Matthew Williams has reimagined Givenchy, bringing his signature streetwise edge to sharply-tailored pieces. Lately, he has added preppy styles to his repertoire, and this rugby shirt is proof.
Mackintosh Bone White x Green Cotton Rugby Shirt
Sharpest Rugby Shirt
Mackintosh’s fits are streamlined, the kinds of silhouettes that flatter and make you look crisp. When it comes to colors, however, the brand really makes a statement, offering pieces such as a neon-leopard coach jacket and bright pink bucket hats. Admittedly, those styles are for the adventurous. But if you want to dip your toes into the wild side of fashion, this sharp rugby shirt with a bold green stripe is a good place to start.
Rag & Bone Garment Dye Cotton Rugby
Best Garment-Dyed Rugby Shirt
Rugby shirts are often bright with contrasting colors that pop (see above). But if you prefer something more subdued, something that looks lived-in, Rag & Bone has a garment-dyed option that you’d want to wear all day, every day.
Taylor Stitch Rugby Shirt
Most Durable Rugby Shirt
Taylor Stitch offers pieces that last the long haul, styles made of durable, quality materials created from organic fibers. This rugby shirt is no exception.
Kule The Enzo Rugby Shirt
Best Cashmere Rugby Shirt
If you’re in an environment that’s really cold, we can think of no better material to keep you insulated than cashmere. It’s warm, cozy, and figure-flattering—all qualities found in this rugby shirt.
Billionaire Boys Club Striped Rugby Shirt
Coolest Rugby Shirt
Leave it to Pharell Williams and Nigo, two of the hottest names in the fashion industry, to offer up a mighty cool style. This rugby shirt—cast in light tones of blue and purple, complete with an embroidered logo on the left chest—will show others that you’re part of the popular club.
Tombolo Sun Leopard Cabana
Best Terrycloth Rugby Shirt
All-over animal print might be a step too far for most guys, but an appliqué gives this shirt just the right amount of bite. And yes, it does say cabana in the title, but if we’re being honest, a long-sleeve cabana is basically a rugby shirt for the beach.
F.E. Castleberry Striped Wool Crepe Rugby Shirt
Best Luxury Rugby Shirt
F.E. Castleberry has taken the humble rugby shirt to heady new heights. This superlative option is made to order, combining hand-loomed wool crepe with mother-of-pearl buttons. Unassumingly sophisticated, it’s equally at home with your favorite vintage Levi’s or a fresco suit.