Like there is a story behind every painting there is a story behind this jersey - Glen Ella, Wallaby #621
Designed by Sydney based Indigenous artist Dennis Golding - a young Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay man from the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern - the jersey demonstrates the Wallabies, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities coming together as one.
The layers of circular symbols and patterns that surround the jersey depict many camps, communities and people who all meet around the centre of the Wallaby to work, share and connect with one another. Subsequently, these fourteen camps on the jersey serve to commemorate the communities of Australia's 14 Indigenous Wallabies - Cecil Ramalli, Lloyd McDermott, Mark, Glen and Gary Ella, Lloyd Walker, Andrew Walker, Jim Williams, Wendell Sailor, Timana Tahu, Anthony and Saia Faingaa, Matt Hodgson and Kurtley Beale.
Through the centre of the artwork, the Wallaby is shown as a symbol for moving forward and who travels through many lands and communities whilst facing obstacles along the way. As the Wallaby can only move forward and not backward, these movements highlight the strength, respect and courage.
Both the jersey and the artwork received endless domestic and international admiration with a painted mural being permanently installed outside of Suncorp stadium, while the Jersey hung from Kangaroos Point Cliff in anticipation of the upcoming Bledisloe Cup match, and then again was hung from Suncorp Stadium on game night.
The Jersey made its international debut in front of 45,109 fans on October 21, 2017 against the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Not only was it the first time that an Australian representative team had worn an Indigenous inspired jersey, but it also marked the first time that Australia defeated New Zealand (23 v 18) since August 2015, bumping Australia to third in the World rankings.
The jersey has since gone on to be worn at the Wallabies final match of the Spring Tour in 2018, against England at Twickenham Stadium, marking the first and only time that the jersey has been worn in competition outside of Australia.
Again, the jersey has continued to be worn, notably for the first time in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The Australian side took to their pool match against Uruguay in the First Nations inspired strip, marking the first time in Australian history that an Indigenous Jersey had been worn at a World Cup.
Following this, the jersey was worn on two occasions in 2020 during the Rugby Championship. Sydney-siders received the opportunity to see the Jersey in person for the first time when the Wallabies took on the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium, in their first home game of 2020 before again wearing it during the final round of the 2020 Rugby Championship.
The final round of the 2020 Rugby Championship also marked a significant milestone in Rugby Australia's ongoing recognition of First Nation's people.
The National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair sung in the Eora nation's language before then being sung in English. Olivia Fox, young Wiradjuri women, took to the field to sing the anthem accompanied by the Wallabies squad's who had also taken time to learn the words for a landmark performance.
What they said
“Not much of a bigger stage when you get to play England, at Twickenham in the Indigenous Jersey.” – Bernard Foley
“I’m a proud indigenous man and to be able to pay tribute and to recognise my culture, in something I love doing is huge for me.” - Kurtley Beale
“Young indigenous kids are coming through now wanting to wear this indigenous Jersey and play for the Wallabies, that’s the effect that it’s had.” – Garry Ella
“The whole team was really honoured to run out in the Indigenous jersey last year to recognise not only the role of Indigenous players in the Wallabies throughout history but as a broader recognition of Indigenous culture and its importance in our country.” – Michael Hooper