The Aboriginal flag will not feature on the Wallabies Indigenous jersey this year as a controversial copyright issue hits another Australian sport.
WAM Clothing, which purchased the licence to the flag design in 2018, is the reason behind Rugby Australia’s decision to remove the Aboriginal flag from its best-selling jersey.
The company was reportedly charging them a “seven-figure” fee to use the flag which saw RA follow the AFL and move on without it.
The flag was not painted onto the centre circle of AFL grounds during Indigenous round earlier this month, instead they used the word ‘Deadly’ and the name of the local Indigenous populations.
Rugby Australia told the SMH the flag won’t be on field for the Bledisloe Test match in October, as it was in 2017, or be displayed on the jersey.
“WAM clothing were demanding 20 per cent of the sales for the use of images of the flags,” Dean Duncan said.
“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.”
The Wallabies wore the flag on their jersey in 2017 and 2018 against England but last year WAM Clothing issued cease and desist orders to all bodies using it.
The Brumbies and Reds will wear their Indigenous jerseys when they meet on Saturday but Duncan said there would be no display of the flag.
“The disappointing thing is that in 2017 it united absolutely everyone,” he 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.”
WAM Clothing was also at the centre of a controversy which left Swans superstar Lance Franklin “deeply disturbed” earlier this season.
‘Buddy’ was criticised by Indigenous Olympic gold medallist Nova Peris for allowing WAM Clothing to profit off its licence by selling clothing products featuring the Aboriginal flag.
In response he pulled his clothing range and issued a statement insisting he meant no disrespect to Aboriginal communities.
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