Wallabies add First Nations numbers to No.1 strip

The Wallabies have moved to further acknowledge Australia’s First Nations people by adding jersey numbers in an Indigenous style for Sunday’s Rugby Championship clash with South Africa on the Gold Coast.

Dave Rennie’s side will become the first Australia team, of any sport, to wear both the coat of arms and as well as a First Nations design on its primary playing strip.

The First Nations style numbers will be an ongoing feature of the Wallabies’ main jumper, while the complete Indigenous jersey will again return for Round 5 clash with the Pumas in Townsville.

“It was the players who had been advocating for the idea of a permanent First Nations addition, and I’m pleased we’ve been able to come up with a solution with ASICS which will feature on the new-look jersey,” Rennie said via a media release.

“We place a great deal of thought as to when and where we will wear it, and Townsville is an obvious choice – it boasts a strong First Nations community who we represent, and when we wear this jersey, we feel it will provide us with an even stronger connection with our people.

“As a squad, we pride ourselves on culture and inclusivity, and that’s what the First Nations jersey represents, and to now have it on both jerseys is something special for our rugby community.”

Having first sported an Indigenous jersey in the third Bledisloe Cup Test of 2017, Rugby Australia and the Wallabies set in motion a push for greater recognition of the country’s First Nations people.

The jersey was then worn in a Test against England at Twickenham, before an updated, predominantly green strip, was used in the 2019 Rugby World Cup match against Uruguay.

A similar design was then last year worn against New Zealand and Argentina in Sydney, while the national anthem was also sung in the local Eora dialect as well as English ahead of the Test with the Pumas.

Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos hailed the latest additions to the game’s First Nations recognition as another huge step in the Wallabies’ promotion of inclusivity.

“It’s a truly historic occasion to be able to announce the incorporation of the First Nations design on the team’s primary jersey,” Marinos said.

“I’d also like to thank Mark Brunton and his team at ASICS for their support this year; from the new-look jersey to the inclusion of the First Nations design, we couldn’t ask for a more supportive partner.

“As a team and rugby family, we pride ourselves on our values of inclusivity and teamwork, and now both of our jerseys will do this, in being inclusive of all Australians.”

“To wear the First Nations jersey in Townsville is also a momentous occasion. It will be our first match there, and with such a passionate First Nations community, we hope to make a real connection and forge strong bonds with that community.”