Beale calls for Indigenous World Cup jersey

Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies star Kurtley Beale has called for Australia to wear an Indigenous jersey in the 2019 Rugby World Cup and it's a suggestion that is well and truly on the table for Rugby Australia.

Australia has worn its current Indigenous jersey once, in a 23-18 win over the All Blacks, and on Wednesday announced a move to wear it again next month against England.

Every team needs to have a primary and an alternative strip for the tournament and Beale backed the suggestion that second jersey should bear an Indigenous design.

In the last World Cup, the Wallabies had a white alternate jersey that they wore in their captain’s runs but never pulled it out for a Test.

Australia’s only official clash country is Romania, who haven't qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and they would be unlikely to be forced to wear an alternative jersey through the tournament.

The colour and design of the World Cup jerseys is yet to be finalised but how that falls could be a major factor in whether they opt to use it in actual Tests.

You have two playing strips in the World Cup To be able to have the jersey in the back pocket just for a big game...I know that it can galvanise the group leading up to a big game," Beale said.

“I certainly felt that last year but I think it's a special jersey to be able to wear and I know a lot of the playing group are full behind it and support it and would love to continue such a special thing.”

Beale said he hadn’t spoken to Rugby Australia’s top brass about the possibility but it is believed to be something the national body is already considering as a possibility for an alternative jersey.

“Not really but I think it's a great opportunity to say it now - I think it would be great to wear this jersey throughout the year,” he said.


“I know there's full support from the playing squad.

“I think the fans in general would love to see another strip out there.

“I think that recognises our first nation's culture. It's a special thing to be able to play such a tribute to the past players who've represented, special players who've represented the Wallabies in the past.

“Maybe, be nice to wear it in a World Cup one day but that said, obviously it's something maybe that we can talk about not that long down the future but we'll see how it goes.

If that came to fruition, the Wallabies’ ability to wear the jersey in matches could be decided by the flip of a coin.

Teams toss a coin ahead of the World Cup for the right to choose which kit they wear in each match - win and they can wear a primary or alternative strip, lose and as long as the alternative doesn't create a clash situation, their opponent simply needs to agree.

Those decisions are made in the coming months for the pool games with tosses for the semi and final done during the tournament.

Beale said it would send a strong message if the Wallabies did don it for a World Cup Test but that it wasn't about making a political statement.

“I think you can only see the reaction of when we wore it against the All Blacks last year and to be able to wear it on such a big stage it pays a lot of respect to what we're actually doing,” he said.

“I don't want to go down the politics side of it but it's just a huge thing and it would make a huge statement to the rest of the world (about) how we're travelling down under.”

Beale isn’t the only one who backs wearing the jersey more often, with halfback Will Genia saying earlier this year that it should be a permanent move.

Prop Scott Sio said the players felt the impact the jersey had on the rugby conversation and would welcome its addition in the World Cup.

“I think as we saw last year it became a bit of an icon not just for Australian rugby but for Australians around the world, a bit of a beacon for them to show a bit of their history and just for people to talk about a bit of a conversation starter, which was unreal.

“I think it was pretty special to win the first time we wore it so I think we'll be wanting to keep that 100 per cent record when we play England.

“If the opportunity to wear it in the World Cup arose. I'm sure the boys wouldn't be against it and we'd definitely welcome that, so I guess we'll just have to see come October next year.”

The Wallabies head to Japan on Saturday night ahead of an October 27 Test against the All Blacks, before a three-week Spring Tour in Wales, Italy and England.

Buy the Indigenous jersey at shop.rugby.com.au.