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Rugby shirts have a buttoned opening at the top, in a similar style to polo shirts but with a stiffer collar. Modern rugby shirts often have a very small collar so as to provide less material for a potential tackler to latch onto (even though such an action is illegal in a game). Rugby shirts traditionally have rubber buttons so that they would, if pulled on in a game, come undone rather than pop off.
Rugby shirts, like most sports jerseys, will usually have a logo on the chest and a number on the back, though shirts not meant for competitive play will usually forgo the number. Labels of sponsorship are common, and generally appear on the abdominal area of the shirt. A traditional design of rugby shirt consists of five or six horizontal stripes or "hoops" in alternating colours. A number of football teams have adopted this pattern, such as Celtic, Queens Park Rangers, Reading, Flamengo, Sporting Clube de Portugal and (as 3rd uniform) Parma. Football shirts by contrast traditionally have vertical stripes.
Rugby shirts were traditionally made out of cotton, but as synthetic fabrics became cheaper they have become incorporated into rugby shirts. The two most common materials are a mix between cotton and polyester (many of these shirts are meant for supporter use, though they can be used in a rugby game), and pure polyester (these shirts are generally designed for game use).
The reason for the preference of polyester in a game situation is twofold: firstly, polyester is harder to get hold of in a tackle situation, as it is inherently more 'slippery' than cotton or a cotton-blend. In addition, the increasing use of skin tight shirts further enhances this effect, as there is no loose material for a tackler to get a grip of. The other benefit of man-made fibre over cotton is that it absorbs less water and mud. As rugby is a sport played mainly in winter and/or bad weather, a cotton rugby kit can weigh around 6 to 8 lb (2.7 to 3.6 kg) when wet. This extra weight has to be carried by the player, in addition to running in wet, heavy ground.
Rugby league shirts often have a large 'V' around the neck; however, more and more teams are embracing the rounded collarless design.
The rugby shirt has, in numerous cultures, become a popular fashion item, with many clothing manufacturers producing rugby styles shirts, with the distinctive collar and hooped or squared design, which do not represent an actual club.