The Queensland Reds were the first Australian Super Rugby team to celebrate and honour their indigenous culture through a specially nominated game each season. The game is a chance for the franchise to draw attention to their Indigenous Program, which among other things works to promote education in the Indigenous community. Since 2012, the Reds have marked this game with a special one-off jersey, and here we have this year’s offering.
Ever since the Reds’ first Indigenous jersey, they’ve been created in conjunction with Stephen Hogarth. No, not the dude from hideous 80s prog band Marillion, the renowned Australian artist, whose eye-catching and instantly recognisable artistic style has made these jerseys quite so impressive.
The shirts have had varying degrees of Hogarth’s art used on them – from near-total coverage back in 2013, to a more subtle take last year. And this year’s design definitely follows suit with the latter. At least from the front.
It makes this still recognisably a Reds jersey, but keeping the Hogarth art up the sides, and on the sleeves, you’re in no doubt that this isn’t the usual Queensland outfit. The occasion is all about the Reds and the indigenous community coming together, so a shirt that gives equal weighting to both just seems better.
At the back however, it’s full-on Hogarth, and we absolutely love it. Hogarth’s work is hugely respected and admired, and one look at this shirt leaves you in little doubt why. The ‘Art on rugby shirts’ schtick can be a bit honky and cliched when it’s not done properly. Now, we’re no art critics, we’re basically Philistines, but it’s clear to us that Hogarth and BLK have worked well together to create a design that doesn’t feel like art clumsily slapped on a shirt – it feels like a rugby shirt, an interestingly and compellingly designed one, too.
We love one-off jerseys, as it’s a chance for teams to do something with a design that they perhaps couldn’t make work if it was the shirt for the whole season. This is a textbook case in point. This is a wonderful, striking, interesting way for the Reds to celebrate their relationship with Queensland’s indigenous people – a shirt that really is a work of art.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: GOOD