The Wallabies’ indigenous jersey has opted not to use the Aboriginal flag after copyright fees demanded a whopping fee from Rugby Australia.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Rugby Australia claim the owner of the license of the Aboriginal flag, WAM Clothing, would receive “seven figures” for allowing the flag to be used.
“WAM clothing were demanding 20 percent of the sales for the use of images of the flags,” Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team president Dean Duncan told the Herald.
“The Wallabies Indigenous jersey is rugby’s highest-selling product, we sell out and it’s a limited edition, so the cost to Rugby Australia was going to be at least in the seven figures.
“The biggest disappointment is not being able to identify under an image that is synonymous with our people.
“Having that flag on a jersey is essentially the same as having the Australian crest on the chest of the Wallabies jersey. If you take away that crest – or in this case our flag – it takes away an emotional link to a team that people have.”
Duncan spoke about the disappointment of the flag being unavailable for free use.
“The disappointing thing is that in 2017 it united absolutely everyone,” Duncan said.
“There were so many positive comments that this should be worn for the Bledisloe Cup each time and that design sold out. You know a jersey is well-accepted when you start getting knock-offs from China, and that’s what happened.
“It was a flag that was designed and promoted to pull everyone together and it’s so divisive now.”
In addition to the jersey omission, the flag will also not be displayed pre-game on the field at the Wallabies’ next Test, despite flags being able to be purchased as licensed products.
Rugby Australia joins the AFL in refusing to pay for the rights to flag, the AFL celebrated their indigenous round but refused to use the flag.
They instead had players wear t-shirts advertising the slogan ‘free the flag’.
At the beginning of 2019, WAM Clothing controversially issued cease and desist orders to all major sporting codes in Australia, as well as other clothing companies, and community groups using the flag.
In contrast, the copyright holders of the Torres Strait Islander Flag do not demand a fee when the image is reproduced, as they request that flag designer Bernard Namok is credited.