The Indigenous round – a weekend of the season where a rugby team can celebrate the culture and contribution of indigenous Australian peoples – has been a part of the calendar for both codes Down Under for some time now, and it’s equally expected for teams to mark the occasion with a special jersey that reflects said culture.
The Reds have carried the torch for the indigenous game in Super Rugby for the last few seasons, and in that time BLK has produced some truly eye-catching jersey designs in that time, and the 2016 version is no exception.
In previous seasons the Reds have usually turned to a professional Aboriginal artist to modify and enhance the home jersey of that season with traditional indigenous art, and while this year’s shirt does follow the same basic design as the home shirt (albeit swapping midnight blue for black), it’s a little bit different.
As part of the charitable and community initiatives surrounding their Indigenous Round celebrations, the Reds run something called ‘Reds Generation Next’ – a program that works with local indigenous leaving-age students to help them prepare for work and life after school. And this year, the designer of the Reds’ jersey is an 18-year-old participant in the programme, Phillip Yeatman – how cool is that?
As with last year’s jersey, the indigenous art covers the sleeves, shoulders and back of the shirt, and it’s a striking, simplistic bit of work. Yeatman’s design depicts a series of campsites and campfires, with circles representing people sitting together in a ceremonial group.
“It shows a story of a group or clan moving from one spot to the next,” says the man himself. “Fire was a necessity for the original people of the land which is where the idea of my painting came from.”
The Reds wore their indigenous jersey for their game against the Chiefs on Friday evening, and while the result didn’t go to plan, the game-worn shirts are being auctioned off to benefit the Reds Foundation – a fund designed to benefit a variety of diversity programs run by Queensland Rugby. Nice.