On the 26th January 1871, a meeting was called at the Pall Mall restaurant to form the rugby football union and agree on a set of rules which clubs would follow when playing each other. Representatives from 21 clubs met, resulting in the formation of the Rugby Football Union. An England team was then selected for the first ever international fixture between England and Scotland which took place at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh on 27th March 1871.
To mark the special milestone of 150 years of rugby union in England, we worked with England Rugby to create a heritage rose that would feature on a commemorative shirt to be worn in the opening Calcutta Cup game of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations, as well as featuring in other anniversary celebrations throughout the year.
Inspired by the past
The rose has been synonymous with English rugby since the game began. To immerse ourselves in the history of the rose, we worked with England Rugby and rugby historians to delve through the archives and study the various roses that have featured on the players' shirts since the inception of the game in 1871.
Together, we chose the very first rose featured on the caps of the 1871 team as the basis of the design for the anniversary heritage rose.
Crafting a beautiful rose
Using the rose from 1871 as starting point, we started to create a series initial sketches that concentrated on the form and shape of the rose itself. To give the rose a heritage feel, we began to look at drawing it in a wood-cut style. At this point we collaborated with renowned illustrator Chris Wormell to help craft and refine the details of the rose until we landed on a version that felt iconic and beautiful.
Steeped in history, ready for the future
The rose is to be used throughout the anniversary year across a wide range of printed and digital applications, therefore we wanted to ensure that this could be achieved without impacting the gravitas, legibility and detail of the rose.
To ensure the rose worked on both light and dark backgrounds we created two versions. Each rose was then drawn at three different sizes. The smaller the rose, the less detail it has to ensure there are no reproduction issues. This flexibility enables the rose to be used across various production methods from silicon injection to foiling.
We wanted all the anniversary celebrations to feel like a modern interpretation of heritage, and be seen as looking to the future as well as the past. For this reason we developed a serif version of the Tusker typeface currently used in the master England Rugby brand.
Working with typographer Lewis McGuffie, we referenced historical typefaces used in old programmes and match day tickets to produce a modern serif that can be used across all anniversary occasions throughout the year.