Here in Lockdown Land, I was getting ready to watch my beloved Brumbies play in their elegant, blue, white and gold strip.
It was the last game of 2021 for the Brumbies after quite a decent season all things taken into consideration. The task for the evening? To upset the Highlanders who, coincidently, wear a predominantly deep blue with orange, maroon and gold.
Lo and behold, and not for the first time this season, I found it rather impossible at times to work out which team I was cheering for. Once again, there was a colour clash! Yikes!
Surely, surely, this could have been avoided? Is there not one spark of common sense, or even forethought, as to what might be the proposed colours for each side might be? Let alone what this may show live and on TV?
More concerningly, is there absolutely no contact between sides or officials across each side of the ditch? And what is the operating body, SANZAAR, doing to allow this to happen yet again?
To unpick this, let’s go through the teams and their kits.
Brumbies – white/royal blue/gold (home); gold/navy (away)
Reds – maroon (home); maroon/white/navy (away)
Tahs – light blue (home); blue/white hoops (away)
Rebels – navy blue/red/white (home); white/blue (away)
Force – sea blue (home); black/gold (away)
What becomes immediately noticeable is that, as a male, I have had to think of different names to identify the actual types of blue that are kitting out the Aussies sides. It’s kind of like how Ross Geller’s shirt was salmon, not pink.
What has consistently baffled me is, from the inception of the Force and then the Rebels, is that they were not only allowed to choose blue, but the similar blues (particularly the Rebels’ annual horror colour clash with the Brumbies!) were allowed.
While I digress that there are historical colours to select from, yet again any foresight and common sense has gone out the window. For mind, the Rebels (being last in) had every chance to select, well, anything but navy blue. Alas, here we are…
New Zealand sides
Crusaders – red/black (home); white/red (away)
Blues – blue (home); white (away)
Chiefs – black/gold (home); grey (away)
Hurricanes – gold/black (home); white (away)
Highlanders – navy/gold/maroon (home); white/green (away)
For the most part, there are few, if any clashes, for the teams when playing local derbies. Common sense has prevailed for 2021!
In previous years, there have been infamous clashes (see Highlanders versus Blues in 2020 as one example) so, when playing domestically, there is little chance of a clash.
But wait, there’s more!
Australia – main strip is (allegedly) a deep purple with orange (in reality, it’s blue) and an alternate is white with orange.
New Zealand – white Specsavers/gold Specsavers (lets keep the ‘ref needs…’ quips down, folks!).
I appreciate that there are sponsors to keep happy, but this is utterly ridiculous. While I of all pundits as a volunteer referee myself do not wish referees to stand out any more than they have to, the old phrase ‘be seen, not heard (often)’ would please many.
In Round 2 of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, the Hurricanes (gold) were at home to the Rebels (white). As the game was played in NZ, the referee Graham Cooper had an unfortunate choice: Specsavers gold and then clash with the Canes, or Specsavers white and clash with the Rebels (who were playing in a white strip despite their main strip not clashing at all).
Once again, there was absolutely no foresight or common sense. Quite often when the Brumbies play the Rebels, it is an impossible decision for the referee to have to make in Australia: wear the white and clash with the Brumbies (see Angus Gardner in 2020) or wear the blue and clash with either the Rebels or the Brumbies (see Damon Murphy in 2021 in Melbourne).
Appreciating that there are sponsors to keep at bay, there must surely be a better decision for the referee kits, too. While a former kit consisting of bright pink in NZ (sponsors were Pink Batts) brings a tear to the eye of a traditionalist, there was never a chance of a clash.
While plotting a graph of what each team ought to wear against each other would take some serious time, and will in all likelihood identify where the mismatches will be, the simple solution is to use common sense.
For instance, if the two teams’ home jerseys do not clash, dispense with the away jersey idea.
The match on Friday night is a classic example. Surely there would have been no discernible difference for the Highlanders to wear their home jersey, despite playing away?
It must surely be time for SANZAAR to end this ridiculous, unprofessional aspect of the game. This is literally their job.