Super Rugby


Why is Queensland’s Super Rugby team called the Reds?

Etymology: Byzantine Greek “μάραον”, “máraon” - “sweet chestnut”
Dictionary Definition: From French, “Marron” – translation, “chestnut red”

1. Reds Born
Queensland’s first representative game of Rugby Union, in 1882, saw the Northerners travel to Sydney to face New South Wales, in the red and black hooped Jerseys of the Brisbane City Club. In this first game, the Australian media christened Queensland the ‘Reds’;

“The “reds” kept the play for a while in a dangerous proximity to the southern goal...”
(Sydney Daily Telegraph, 23/8/1882)

2. First Maroon
The first maroon was introduced to Queensland’s kit in 1887. The new, white jersey and shorts contrasted maroon socks and embroidered NRU emblem of the Northern Rugby Union.

3. First Maroon Jersey
When the widespread Clubs of the NRU affiliate to become Queensland Rugby Union in 1893, the decision was made to adopt a maroon jersey, in recognition of Queen Victoria’s royal robes.

The decade between the Reds’ first jersey, and the first maroon jersey in 1894, Queensland wore dark and light blues, white and even ‘chocolate’ jerseys.

With the exception of experimenting again with (maroon, white & blue) hoops in the mid-late 1990s, Queensland wore the same maroon jersey with simple white embroidery continuously over 112 years (1894-2006).

4. Rugby League
When the Rugby schism reached Queensland in 1908, the Rugby League continued to wear Queensland Rugby Union’s well established maroon.

Queensland’s League side had little success (54 wins from 221 games) until 1980, when the State of Origin series began, dramatically lifting the ‘Maroons’ popularity.

5. Media Convention
The media’s use of ‘Reds’ stuck, and became ubiquitous throughout the early 20th Century, which saw Queensland play exclusively in maroon;

1913 - “… fine passing rushes by the Reds were brought up a few yards from the Blues’ Line.”
(Brisbane Daily Standard, 21/7/1913)

1931 - “The Reds then gave a real taste of their brilliance in the backs...”
(Queensland Times, 1/6/1931)

1948 - “... their forwards were overwhelmed by the Reds backs, especially in the first half.”
(Daily Mercury, 23/8/1948)

6. First Koala Emblem
Queensland Rugby’s Iconic Koala was chosen as the Red’s emblem in 1934 as part of a campaign to protect the marsupial from increasingly industrialised poaching. The koala patch was sown onto the maroon jersey.

A stylised Koala, on the maroon jersey became the official logo of the Reds’ Super Rugby franchise in 2003.

7. Reds Golden Era
During the 1970s & 1980s, Queensland became the most successful provincial Rugby side in the World.

“On May 1976, Queensland finally came of age by destroying New South Wales 42-4 at Ballymore where spectators went wild in a frenzy of “Red! Red! Red!” as they realised their heroes had made history with the widest winning margin in the series dating back to 1882.”
(Page 211, Red! Red! Red!)

8. Professionalism & SANZAAR
Rugby’s turn to professionalism, and SANZAR’s formation in 1995 required established, provincial sides to adopt franchise names for the 1996 Super 12 season.

This led to SANZAAR recognising the following official names of competing Super 12 teams:

The Queensland Reds, ACT Brumbies, Waikato Chiefs, NSW Waratahs, Canterbury Crusaders, Otago Highlanders and Wellington Hurricanes.

9. Maroon to Red transition
In 2006 Queensland Rugby launched a three-season plan to transition the playing strip from traditional maroon to a more vibrant, letter-box red.

10. Maroon Returns
Queensland Rugby returns to maroon full time in 2019, after successfully sporting maroon Heritage Jerseys in 2016 & 17, continuing the 125-year old legacy.

Rugby Traveller