Hertford Highlander

The grass is always greener

Written by Gwyn Pratley (Hertford Highlander)

Posted in :Original Content, Super Rugby on 31 May 2011 at 12:10
Tagged with : , , , , ,

It has been a while since my entire rugby week has been consumed with what colour jersey my local rugby team will wear.

This Friday night the Highlanders will unveil their new strip for the 2012 Super Rugby season. It will be quite an occasion with it being the last match of Super Rugby at the iconic old ground – Carisbrook.

The Highlanders hierarchy have gone to great lengths to keep the exact look of the jersey under wraps. Even the pre-match television crews are not allowed this week to film inside the Highlanders dressing room prior to the match, in order to keep the make-up of the jersey a mystery until Whopper leads his charges out against the Force on kick off.

The new strip has been making quite some waves this week in New Zealand, with all and sundry having an opinion. Once it is finally revealed on Friday night it is sure to occupy a lot of column inches and plenty of photographic editorials in the Saturday morning papers.

So what is all the fuss about?

Why is everyone so interested both inside and outside the franchise?


Well the jersey is green, yes green, no I’m not joking, green, and in fact it is teal green.

The sort of green that local duck shooters in these parts blow out of the sky on a misty autumn morning with great pleasure. I can’t image any North Otago, Otago or Southland duck shooter being seen dead in a teal green jersey at the risk of being mistaken for a mallard duck – such an act is like taking your life in your own hands in these parts, now it seems in more ways than one.

But really – Why all the fuss?

Well like every Super side in New Zealand the current colours have been with us since the inception of the competition back in 1996. The original marketing brief was to design a jersey that reflected the regions. In hindsight the jerseys we have today are a very sad reflection of that – why? Well they really biasedly reflect the major unions’ colours; back in 1996 the NZRFU compounded the problem by even naming the franchises after the major union in each region. This in all likelihood has only further disenfranchised those from outside the main centres.

Back to our jersey, well the Highlanders may not now be known as the Otago Highlanders; however I do still hear it rolled out now and again. Our jersey is primarily blue in colour, Otago blue. It does however have a smattering of Southland maroon and North Otago gold. To be fair it is a disproportionate amount of blue for a side that barely has half a dozen players in the entire squad from the Otago province.

Some would lead us to believe that the jersey has always been a divisive influence within the Highlanders environment. Others will tell us that the permanent jersey change is driven from within the player environment, with senior players right behind it.

On Saturday after the Lions clash when Jamie Joseph was quizzed about the jersey he seemed nonplussed about the whole issue. Deflecting the jersey change as something that players don’t overly focus on, implying that for them it was more about what you did on the footie field and not what colour top you had on. Afterwards I reflected on Joseph’s demeanour and felt really sorry for his current plight. Jamie Joseph has worked really hard off the field to put some pride and performance back into this underperforming franchise and jersey.

This week it seems the Highlanders board seems to have very little empathy for the local rugby publics’ opinion. Constantly throwing back in their faces that if they cared so much, then they would be flooding in huge numbers into the dinosaur ground of Carisbrook. If we were flooding into the ‘Brook’ in huge numbers we could all enjoy the cold pies, the lack of a decent scoreboard – if there is a working scoreboard at all (sometimes it breaks down halfway through the game and gives the score of last week’s match). We could all dream of watching a replay on a big screen and we could all soak up the non-existent pre, post or halftime entertainment on offer – plus we have no cheerleaders. Yes the Highlanders board are out to distance themselves from their local fan base, of which they seem to be doing quite a good job – and the jersey change looks like the bird out the window to the fans on the way past.

But on the way past to where?

I’m not 100% sure if the board has delusions of grandeur for our little franchise. Maybe they think that a new jersey will make us more marketable off shore or outside our region to bigger sponsors and better players. Maybe the idea is to distance the Highlanders from the struggling Otago and Southland Unions. Or maybe the driving force behind the jersey change is the first step in creating a fresh new look that will be more easily based in the future outside the Otago, North Otago, Southland region – North Harbour for example. Maybe a relocated Highlanders side up north or even off shore will provide the money men with greater revenue streams.

Today the Highlanders are not solely about Otago, Southland or North Otago. They are not called the Otago Highlanders. They are not exclusively made up of players from within our feeder ITM Cup sides.

But! And it is an important but!

They do however for now represent this region and the people that reside in this region, the same supporters that are going to be there on a cold Friday night this week against the Force – the same supporters that have been there for the past 16 seasons.

The new teal green jersey is about as popular within our region as Stuie Dickinson being appointed to the final of The Super Rugby competition.

I will be there on Friday night and like many of the fans there, I do care about the colour of our team’s jersey. It should be Blue, Maroon and Gold in equal amounts, because for now these colours along with the Highlanders represent the provinces and people that reside south of the Waitaki River. But maybe I’m missing the bigger picture and maybe something much larger is afoot. Maybe I just need to come to terms with the fact that there will always be suits in visionary positions that will always think the grass is greener!

(United We Stand – “Our three unions have come together to form this strong southern alliance under the banner of ‘United We Stand’. We are part of something special – we play for each other as a team, we play for our loyal and staunch supporters. Come rain, hail or shin our vocal supporters will be there willing our team to win. Being a Highlander means being prepared, being accountable, and being responsible. When our warriors pull on the jersey they represent a proud group of player, they represent all those who have worn the jersey before them, and all those who will proudly wear the jersey in time … they also represent family, bloodlines, this province, and the loyal fans.” – Highlanders website)


  • Should be very interesting to see..

  • Comment 1, posted at 31.05.11 12:13:21 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • deysel gets 2 weeks suspension.

  • Comment 2, posted at 31.05.11 12:36:19 by grant10 Reply

  • @grant10 (Comment 2) :

    There is a seperate thread for this..

  • Comment 3, posted at 31.05.11 12:38:14 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • Been following this debate with interest in the last week.

    Certainly some varied opinions on this…

  • Comment 4, posted at 31.05.11 12:41:58 by Morné Reply
  • Wait . . Highlanders don`t have cheerleaders?!

    No wonder they can`t even get a result against 14 lions! 😈

  • Comment 5, posted at 31.05.11 13:12:44 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • I feel your pain.My union has Earl Rose playing for them 😥

  • Comment 6, posted at 31.05.11 13:18:57 by Clayton(PJLD) Reply
  • Complaining about no pre match entertainment?! Try supporting the Lions where we rarely have in match entertainment.Besides,weren’t the boys welcomed onto the field by a pipe band on Friday albeit them playing the “Last Post.” Any news on the sex assault allegations?I see Stuff.co.nz have withdrawn their original story from their site.

  • Comment 7, posted at 31.05.11 15:00:47 by wade Reply

  • The Sharks must have the best pre match entertainment in the industry!!

  • Comment 8, posted at 31.05.11 15:03:22 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • Since they’ll be playing in a greenhouse soon, it only makes sense to be dressed like a vegetable. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 9, posted at 31.05.11 17:58:57 by McLovin Reply

  • Deep choons.

  • Comment 10, posted at 31.05.11 18:33:47 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish

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