Wallabies to make history with indigenous-themed jersey

Oita (Japan) (AFP) –


The Wallabies will make history when they take the field against Uruguay on Saturday by wearing an indigenous-inspired jersey for the first time at the Rugby World Cup.

Kurtley Beale, the only indigenous Australian in the current Wallabies squad who starts at fullback against Uruguay, said the special jersey had a "galvanising" effect on the team.

"It's showing us representing all Australians, but importantly, the First Nations people," he said.

"We've got buy-in from all the players and the staff. And as a country it is a true representation and acknowledgement of the First Nations people. It's going to be a very special night for all involved."

Assistant coach Nathan Gray said the match "will go down in history in rugby as a game where a country got to wear a jersey signifying a really special moment."

The strip has been altered from that worn only twice before -- against England last year and New Zealand in 2017 -- to show a more complete representation of not only Australia's First Nations people but other cultures in the squad.

With several players of Pacific island descent in the Wallabies, centre Matt To'omua, who is part-Samoan, said the jersey showed a sport once seen as upper-class and white-collar had changed.

"To see an indigenous jersey filled with a team full of brown guys is kind of cool and kind of different," he said.

"Obviously, we are very fortunate at the moment that we have got Kurtley in the team and he has shared with us quite a lot of stories in terms of what it means and getting recognition for the first people of our country."

The design features a wallaby motif woven around 14 watering holes, representing the 14 indigenous players to have so far represented Australia ranging from Cecil Ramali in 1939 through to Beale.

The Wallabies are expected to be untroubled by Uruguay, and after a win against Fiji and a loss to Wales, should finish second in their pool.