21 Best Rugby Shirts 2023: Unbeatable Polos to Toughen Up Your Wardrobe

Rugby is a game of contrasts, and the best rugby shirts reflect that duality. On the one hand, it’s a sport played almost exclusively by dudes built like The Rock, who crash into one another over and over again with the unremitting fury and general chaos of a hotly-contested round of Hungry Hungry Hippos. On the other, it was invented by a bunch of prepsters at a British boarding school, which means it has all the peculiar etiquette and collegiate traditions of something like rowing baked right in.

Rugby shirts, similarly, are built thick and tough to survive opponents yanking on ‘em for 80 minutes straight, but they’re also refined and collared like their close relative the polo shirt. And they’re Swiss-army-knife versatile: you can throw one on alone with jeans or chinos or shorts, or you can sub it into just about any situation you’d normally wear a V-neck sweater (think over a button-down or under a blazer) to give your look a little extra ruggedness.

Bottom line, you need one. And, wouldn’t you know it, your pals at GQ have done all the heavy lifting for you. Cop one of the best rugby shirts for men below, wear it with everything, rack up the compliments. It’s that simple. Scrum on.

The Best Rugby Shirts Shopping Guide

The Ol’ Reliable Pick

You want something classic and preppy and built to last? You go with Ralph Lauren. And, as you might expect, Polo Ralph Lauren’s rugby shirt is damn near definitive: the stripes are thick, the knit is burly, the buttons are rubber (to prevent them popping off mid-tackle), the collar is begging to be popped. But the biggest selling point of all is the fit—trim but not tight, with enough room to wear one of Ralph’s just-as-iconic Oxford shirts comfortably underneath.

The All-Natural Pick

Story MFG

Paneled organic cotton jersey shirt

If you want a shirt that brings those sun-faded summer vibes to a fall classic, then everyone’s favorite earthy cross-the-pond label Story MFG has got you covered. This tonal, pastel-y pink number is dyed using all-natural plant fibers and has a boxy, every-so-slightly cropped silhouette so you don’t have to do any aftermarket mods to dial in the fit. And just in case you still weren’t sure if this shirt was gonna be the standout of your fall rotation, it’s got literal stars stitched onto the elbows.

The High-Minded Pick

Studio Nicholson

Field merino wool-blend rugby top

Rugby shirts are usually characterized by their rugged makeups—heavyweight fleeces, twill collars, the like—but London’s Studio Nicholson has taken this British-bred staple to new elevated heights by doing it up in merino wool. Though it retains the signature contrast collar, it’s a bit of an optical illusion as that too is constructed of the plush knit fabric. What isn’t an illusion, however, is just how endlessly wearable this pared-down rugby polo is. Toss it on with jeans and sneakers for a minimalist weekend look or subvert its schoolboy leanings by throwing on oversized trousers and derbies.

The Not-So-Mass Market Pick

Brendon Babenzien’s formula of pushing J.Crew into the future by culling its 40-year past continues with a new-wave riff on this prep classic. But instead of your standard horizontal collegiate stripes, this one’s got the sort of multi-hued layout we’d normally expect to see on the going out shirts everyone was rocking two decades ago. To make it pop against the standard fare even more, Babenzien & Co. added a denim collar that gives this beauty the perfect balance of refinement and ruggedness.

The New York by Way of Nantucket Pick

Babenzien’s other gig as co-founder of Noah is also a reliable source of today’s streetwear-infused rumpled prep fare, and this riff on an erstwhile classic is a prime example of what the NY label does best. In construction it’s mostly traditional, but stands out for its splashy, nautically-vibed color combo that can instantly elevate any white tee and khakis without leaving you looking like you just got lost on the way to the library.

The Repentant Hypebeast Pick

Fear of God Essentials

Poplin trimmed waffle knit cotton blend sweater

The very fact that Fear of God Essentials set its sights on the rugby shirt should tell you that it is indeed a wardrobe stalwart—but that doesn’t mean their version is some run of the mill polo-collared pullover. Instead, the LA-based hype wizards conjured up a rugby with an extremely right now drop-shoulder design, a waffle knit construction, and a puddy color that brings to mind concrete-floored, sparsely furnished loft apartments. Plus, it’s got a logo that says you know what’s up when it comes to getting classic menswear from not-so-expected sources.

The Retro-Restored Pick

Rowing Blazers has made its name on faithful reproductions of iconic sportswear, from David Hockney’s striped rugby shirts to Princess Diana’s cheeky jumpers. So it tracks that this rugby shirt looks exactly like the version your dad would have worn in the 1970s, down to the primary color combo and big chest stripe. And because it’s made out of a seriously beefy 14 oz. cotton, it’ll last long enough to become a vintage grail your own kids will want to inherit.

The Classic-As-They-Come Pick

If you’re looking for authenticity, Barbarian is the way to go—the company’s knockabout gear has been put to the test on pitches the world over for four decades and counting. The brand’s rugby shirts are made in Canada out of premium 12 oz. fleece and feature all of the details you’d expect from a shirt designed to follow you into battle—which means it’ll hold up just fine accompanying you to the farmer’s market too.

Plus 13 More Rugby Shirts We Love

Taylor Stitch

Rugby in dark forest stripe

Few better ways to freshen up your fall wardrobe than with a sturdy shirt in pine tree green.


Premium weight rugby shirt

Ultra-simple and made from a heavy duty cotton, this is the rugby shirt you won’t get sick of wearing multiple times this season and for years to come.


Rugger long sleeve polo shirt

In true Uniqlo fashion, this rugby hits all the quintessential notes at a price that makes it easy to pick up a couple if you’re feeling it.

Todd Snyder

Bleach wash indigo dyed rugby shirt

Ironically, this rugby shirt that’s dyed like your favorite pair of old jeans will probably look best with khakis.


Rugby short sleeve polo shirt

If you can’t wait to break out the full-length version as summer winds down, get yourself a version that delivers the same signature style in a breezy short sleeve form.

Brooks Brothers

Sueded cotton chest stripe rugby

A rugby shirt with a pink striped oxford cloth collar is the utlimate preppy move for fall.

Carhartt WIP

Proof that the workwear masters at Carhartt can ruggedize anything, including a rugby shirt that’s been updated with a beefy corduory collar.


Green merino wool rugby shirt

This sophisticated rugby riff, courtesy of one of the most “of-the-moment” brands in menswear, features a sweater-like merino wool construction that’ll help you dress up the style with a pair of spiffy pleated trousers and loafers all season long.

Karu Research

A rugby shirt in mostly name alone, this color-blocked option ditches the twill and fleece for a boatload of cozy knit colorblocked goodness.


Jail stripe big rugger shirt

An ultra-oversized rugby shirt from one of the coolest Japanese imprints on the planet will get your fall fits on lock.


You no longer have to be an ivy leaguer to rep one, but it’s still a smart move to grab a rugby shirt from one of the most trusted sources in prep.

Thom Browne

Striped pocket rugby shirt

A rugby shirt that’ll look just as good with cropped trousers and hefty brogues as it will your favorite baggy jeans and sneakers.

Aries x Umbro

Emboirdered striped rugby shirt

As the competition for big fits picks up for fall, this sick Umbro x Aries collab rugby will be tough to beat.

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