KooGa Rugby and the History of the Wallabies Rugby Jersey

Ethel Gonzales

On Australia Day 2010, KooGa Rugby, with help from current Wallabies Matt Giteau, Benn Robinson, and Berrick Barnes, launched their new Wallabies rugby jersey. In doing so KooGa started contributing to a rugby history dating back to 1899 when Australia played their first series in 1899.

In this edition of the jersey, KooGa have retained the traditional Wallabies green and gold, although the green is a little less prevalent in this edition. When the Wallabies played that first ever series their jersey was actually blue or red, and had a predominant coat of arms. After the first World War Queensland took a break and Australia was solely represented by New South Wales in tests. When they combined again in 1929 Australia was finally represented using its current colours, green and gold.

There have been a few exceptions in order to avoid colour clashes with opposing teams. For example in 1933 Australia reverted to blue to play the Springboks, and white with a little green and gold to play the All Blacks in 1938.

While the new colour scheme on the KooGa rugby jersey sticks with the green and gold tradition, which began in 1929, that is where the similarities to those historic jerseys end. As Australian Rugby Union CEO said at the launch, “Obviously the Wallabies jumper of that era is a far cry from where we are today with state-of-the-art, body-hugging, temperature controlling apparel, but the Wallaby Gold remains consistent”.

This has been a trend for all international rugby playing countries, and the body-hugging style of rugby jerseys was first really showcased on mass at the 2003 World Cup. This has seen a change in appearance if not colour to the famous jerseys worn by the likes of England, Ireland and the All Blacks. All use their traditional colours of white, green, and black respectively, but all have moved on from the baggy, thick cotton and collared jerseys of the past.

Technology has continued to improve since that World Cup, which saw rugby jerseys, particular the new All Blacks jerseys by Adidas, falling apart. This latest instalment by KooGa Rugby is described as “‘bullet-proof” and “virtually indestructible”, even containing such materials as hydrosteel and carbon fibre. They are also light and body temperature controlling, which has become standard across professional rugby jerseys. In all ways, certainly a far cry from the first international Australian rugby jerseys first worn in 1899.

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