South Sydney Rabbitohs - Colours Cardinal and Myrtle

As all supporters know the official colours of the South Sydney District Rugby League Football club are Cardinal (Red) and Myrtle(green),but why these famous colours? To find this answer we need to go back. These colours are a rare combination in the world of sport. The initial answer is that South Sydney Rugby League team adopted the district colours from the South Sydney Rugby Union team, when it was formed in 1908, as did all of the original rugby league clubs. But to understand why you need to go back further.

When sport started in Sydney club colours did not include cardinal and myrtle let alone red and green, and there were no teams playing in those colours, be it rugby, cricket, cycling or swimming. Sydney University were playing in blue and gold, Wallaroos in the colony colours of red, white and blue and Waratah in white with a red sash. Jersies were being ordered in from England.

When the Redfern RU club was formed in 1878 they choose to wear the navy blue, like many clubs of period who wore combinations of navy blue, royal blue, white, red, maroon and black. In 1886 when new Redfern based club Rosedale joined they had chosen to wear the colours of cardinal(red) and black. But by 1887 a range of coloured jersies were becoming available locally, with cardinal and green tops now available.

Darlinghurst in 1888 were one of the first clubs to wear the new colours choosing a rusty red and hiberian green quarters. But the club and its colours lasted only a year.

1892 saw the introduction of the Richmond junior club choosing a colour scheme which associated with the area of Navy Blue and White. Richmond as a club would evolve into the South Sydney RU club in 1898 also wearing navy blue and white.

In 18th August 1893 with the advent of electorial cricket the East Sydney cricket club was formed it adopted the electorial district colours being green with cardinal stripes. But the East Sydney RU club had chosen to wear Sky blue and Claret. With Paddington electorate's promotion to RU seniors the colonial colours of red, white and blue were well entrenched, as we headed towards district club rugby.

In 1895 the Redfern Borough club had adopted a white jersey with a red sash and fern and delegate to the union was future secretary Tom Peters.

In 1896 a second junior team South Sydney Juniors were entered. The club was based in Darlington with the secretary G.Judd home was in the middle of a floral based suburb. Living on Myrtle St just up from Rose cross St. So to differentiate itself from the other Redfern RU clubs they chose to wear a cardinal red and sage green strip.

1899 standard issue jersies

With the advent of district RU in 1900, South Sydney/Redfern district was one of the districts that needed to step up and return to the Seniors. The two clubs and South Sydney and the Redfern Waratahs were to combine and step up into the Seniors and represent the district. But both club colours of Navy Blue/White and Red/White were similar to existing senior clubs.

Cardinal(red) was a popular alternative colour already in use in Redfern. Being used at time by some Redfern borough clubs and previously by the local Rosedale clubs when playing seniors. And the strong connection the area through the Red in Redfern.

The native-rose or Waratah was a popular flower of the area. The Waratah however was known in slang terms by the convicts as a Red-Fern, rather than by its scienticfic name - Telopea speciosissima or modern name The Waratah. The local Waratah has a striking "cardinal red" flower and "myrtle green" leaves. A floral symble had also been used a few years previosly as a red fern crest present on a Redfern Borough club jersey.

Green had been a jersey colour used in moe recent years by borough clubs, with local club Alexandria wearing green and white, and was seen as not clashing with existing district clubs. So the club adopted the Myrtle(green) colour which, matched the leaves of the Waratah and also happened to be the name of the street where the South Sydney 3rd Juniors secretary lived.

1897 Randwick RU Team

Finally the last thing to settle on was the initial jersey design. For this Souths choose to adopt the winning Randwick rugby team 2 inch indigo & 4 inch amber design. Which had been made famous during their recent 1894-1897 premiership winning run.

1980 White Introduced

In 1980 a attempt to re-market the club occurred when white was introduced as a colour onto the main premiership jersey, in the famous minute wrapper strip. It was done at the suggestion of #1 fan Don Lane to appeal to the migrant community. It returned for the 7s and has remained since re-instatement in 2002.

2005 Black Introduced

In 2005, once again as a marketing tool, black was introduced into the alternate jersey design, it had a strong link to the indigenous community. It has been used in various forms ever since.


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