Round Four of Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU will mark a week of recognition, awareness and celebration of Australia’s First Nations history and culture, with the inaugural First Nations Round.
Each Australian Super Rugby side will wear a First Nations jersey this weekend with teams also marking the occasion with various educational and awareness sessions across Australia throughout the week.
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Rugby Australia has also unveiled a First Nations artwork for the Round, with First Nations artist Dylan Barnes unveiling ‘Ngumbadalngilanha-bu Ginhar’ which means ‘United and Strong’ in Wiradjuri language.
First Nations Round will also be recognised on gameday this weekend with activities and activations at the home fixtures in Perth and Canberra on Friday and Saturday night respectively.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive Andy Marinos said: “This is a truly significant weekend for all of Australian Rugby. We acknowledge that we are on the path to reconciliation, and this is yet another small step towards it.
“We have several First Nations players amongst the Super Rugby ranks, and more in the Sevens program as well as with the Buildcorp Wallaroos squad that’s currently in Canberra – but we are acutely aware that we need to continue the work, and will do so through the continued demonstration of the values of our sport, as this is what truly sets us apart as a game.
“Last weekend, in conjunction with the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team, RugbyAU supported the flagship First Nations Rugby Sevens event, the Ella7s, on the Central Coast and it was a huge success.
“We have a deep desire to remove any structural and social barriers that exclude any Australian from participating in Rugby, whether that be as a player, official, volunteer, coach or administrator,” Marinos said.
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The Melbourne Rebels travel to HBF Park to take on the Western Force to kick-off First Nations Round, kicking off at 5.45pm AWST/8.45pm AEDT, LIVE on Stan Sport. Click here to purchase tickets.
It’s a Grand Final re-match in Canberra to close out First Nations Round when the Queensland Reds take on the Brumbies on Saturday 13 March at GIO Stadium kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on Stan Sport and 9Gem. Click here to purchase tickets.
"Ngumbadalngilanha-bu Ginhar" (Meaning 'United and Strong' in Wiradjuri language)
This artwork represents how powerful a person's connections to their family, community, and identity can be. By having a strong sense of self and belonging within your communities, you achieve a heightened sense of passion and integrity for both yourself and the people you are close to. Being truly connected to your team and acknowledging each other's differences and similarities is vital to achieving success.
The black circles represent the players and their close connections. The sitting people around these circles represent their communities and ancestors that have paved the way for them and helped them become the people they are today. Each of these circles are connected by journey paths, which represents the interconnectedness of the team and the strength that comes with unity and teamwork.
The blue and green circles represent Country and the ancestors that came before us. Without Country and our ancestors, the knowledges, cultures, and communities that we have today would not exist. Next to these blue and green circles are black 'baskets' that are filled with dots of knowledge. Each of these dots symbolises a small piece of information that each person holds. When these dots of knowledge are exchanged with others, we can develop long-lasting connections and create stronger communities.
The Round was called ‘First Nations’ rather than ‘Indigenous’ after consultation with key stakeholders including the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development team as well as First Nations players and staff. RugbyAU acknowledges that different terms are used throughout the country so gain a majority consensus from these groups as to how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples want to be referred to. This is also in alignment with the Uluru Statement from the Heart: https://ulurustatement.org/
This article was originally published on RUGBY.com.au.