South Africa’s diminishing Springbok logo is once again threatened with extinction as an ANC politician has called for its permanent removal from the famous green and gold jersey, but what significance do the badges of some rugby’s other national sides have?
The Wales side has always embraced the ‘Prince of Wales’s feathers’, a symbol of royal heraldy that is a combination of three white ostrich feathers and a golden coronet. It bears the German ‘Ich Dien’ or ‘I serve’. The badge is usually linked back to the time of Edward, the Black Prince, a figure revered for his fearlessness in battle – as referenced in Shakespeare’s history plays – and son of Edward II.
It is believed that ‘Ich dien’ was used because it sounds similar to the Welsh ‘Eich Dyn’ or ‘Your man’, which might suggest why the insignia has lasted so long despite an increasing nationalist voice in the country.
It wasn’t until the 17th century that the emblem became exclusively associated with Wales and the British royal family continue to offer their support to Welsh rugby, particularly Prince William who is Vice Royal Patron of the WRU and in regular attendance at the Millennium Stadium.
There are several theories as to why England uses a red rose as its crest. Firstly, the royal rose is white and red representing the unification of the two houses of York and Lancaster at the end of the War of the Roses.
Despite this, later monarchs such as Elizabeth I were still associated with the House of Lancaster, which may suggest why the red rose is more prominent.
The second theory, according to the Museum of Rugby, is that Rugby School’s original badge featured a red rose. When England took on the colours of Rugby School, it may have taken on the emblem as well.
Ireland’s logo features three shamrocks with a rugby ball at the centre, with the shamrock being a symbol of both Ireland itself and St Patrick, the nation’s patron saint. St Patrick may have used the shamrock to represent the holy trinity.
The nation’s association with the colour green is believed to stem from the use of the shamrock. However, the shamrock is a symbol that is prominent across both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and a suitable emblem for a team that is made up of players from Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster.
The story goes that when Scotland was invaded by a Norse army attempting to catch the natives by surprise by attacking in the cover of darkness, a barefooted invader trod on a thistle, thus revealing their whereabouts. One can only hope that this story is true.
According to the French government, “The Latin word Gallus means both “rooster” and “inhabitant of Gaul”.
“Certain ancient coins bore a rooster, but the animal was not yet used as the emblem of the tribes of Gaul. Gradually the figure of the rooster became the most widely shared representation of the French people.”
Although the nation’s nickname is ‘Los Pumas’, the animal on the country’s emblem is in fact a Jaguar, hence the ‘Jaguares’ in Super Rugby. Apparently a South African journalist commented that the logo resembled a puma more than a jaguar when they first toured the country back in the 1960s and the name stuck.
Perhaps the UAR are keen to rectify the misnomer when you consider Argentina’s ‘A’ team has also been known as ‘Los Jaguares’ for many years as well.
The silver fern is a species of plant endemic to the country and was first used as a military symbol before being adopted by many of the nation’s sports teams.
Such is its association with the All Blacks that the NZRU tried to trademark any representation of the silver fern for its exclusive use. The bid was later thrown out.
Australia has only recently adopted the wallaby as its official emblem, having used the country’s coat of arms for much of its history. The nickname for the team stems from the English press having dubbed the New Zealand side the ‘All Blacks’ after their tour of the UK in 1905.
The Australians were keen to have their own nickname. The English media – perhaps with a hint of sarcasm – suggested the ‘Rabbits’. Instead, the Aussies plucked for the Wallabies.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
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