To celebrate 2017 NAIDOC Week, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has announced that for the first time in history, the Qantas Wallabies will wear an Indigenous jersey to commemorate the role of Indigenous Australians in rugby’s past, present and future. The jersey will be worn when the Wallabies play New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, on 21 October in the final 2017 Bledisloe Cup match.
The Wallabies Indigenous jersey was designed by Dennis Golding, a young Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay artist from Redfern in Sydney, and shows the Wallabies, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities coming together as one.
In honour of the 14 Indigenous players who have donned the Wallabies jersey, there are 14 symbols which celebrate the communities and contributions of Cecil Ramalli, Lloyd McDermott, Mark Ella, Gary Ella, Glen Ella, Lloyd Walker, Andrew Walker, Jim Williams, Wendell Sailor, Timana Tahu, Saia Faingaa, Anthony Faingaa, Kurtley Beale and Matt Hodgson.
The Indigenous jersey was revealed to the public by Wallaby #836, Kurtley Beale, who posted images of the jersey onto his social media accounts yesterday evening. Beale, a Durag man from Western Sydney, has been an active advocate for the creation of an Indigenous jersey, and said he’s looking forward to the moment when the Wallabies will make history when they wear the jersey against the All Blacks.
Kurtley Beale said: “I’m really excited to be part of this initiative and wear this jersey. As a current Indigenous Wallaby, I hope that by wearing this jersey I can do my family and my people proud.
“All Australians – indigenous and non-indigenous – will be able to wear this jersey and embrace what it represents, so I think it’s a really important step towards reconciliation.
“There are heaps of young Indigenous kids out there who are really talented at rugby, and I hope this jersey helps inspire them to strive to reach their goals in rugby and in life. This is a great way to pay respect to the Indigenous community, and also encourage more people from Indigenous backgrounds to get involved in rugby in the future.”
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said: “Having an Indigenous jersey is a real statement for Australian Rugby and shows what we stand for. We are committed to making rugby a game for all, and a key part of this includes making rugby more accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“While we still have much more to do I am proud of the progress we’ve made in recent years especially through our Indigenous rugby primary schools program, Deadly7s, which had more than 5,000 participants last year. Our partnerships with organisations such as the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team and the Classis Wallabies Indigenous Exchange are also introducing more young Indigenous kids to rugby.
“This year we’ve already seen some of this work pay off at the national representative level. For the first time ever, there are Indigenous players contracted to all Super Rugby and national teams, and 13 members of our junior national sevens teams come from an Indigenous background. It’s a great sign of things to come for the future.”