On the left is the original, which is around 30 years old - and isn't really an Ireland rugby shirt at all. It was actually my "Houston House" jersey at school, which I asked my late grandfather to sew a badge and number onto (they didn't actually sell replica kit back then). But the great Willie John McBride agreed to sign it whilst attending the Oliver Turkington Memorial Dinner in September, thereby making it more Irish than most things.
On the far right is jersey number two, which I bought early last year and which saw me through two Six Nations campaigns, including Ireland's championship-winning effort last season.
Ah, happy memories.
So we move along to Ireland shirt number three, in the middle, also known as "the new one." The Irish Rugby Football (IRFU) changed both kit supplier and sponsor in the summer, leaving me with little option (in my view) but to go to the shop. But I only did so after conducting some research.
First, how long would it be before the IRFU changed the jersey again? At least two seasons, I found out, which incorporates next year's Rugby World Cup which Ireland are destined to win, instantaneously transforming my shirt into a collectors' item.
Secondly, how tight was it? These days, rugby jerseys are generally available in three different styles:
- Matchday - the actual shirts worn by the players, skin tight and designed to mould to your body shape;
- Kids - normally made of cotton and nice and comfy for the young 'uns;
- Dads - somewhere in between, not too shiny and a big baggier to allow for beer guts.
So, when I was home last weekend, I visited said clothing outlet to buy the dads version of the brand new shirt.
I intend to wear it for the first time tomorrow when Ireland play Australia. The game clashes with the Arsenal v Man U football match, which will obviously take precedence on pub big screens across England. So I'll be watching the boys in green at home on the sofa, with a pint of Guinness as my only company.
I'm 42 you know.