The Wallaroos will make history against Japan on Tuesday, singing the Australian national anthem in the Yugambeh language.
It will be the first women’s national team to sing “Advance Australia Fair” in a First Nations language, as well as the first time outside of Sydney following the Wallabies’ groundbreaking move against Argentina in 2020.
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Yugambeh are the traditional custodians of the lands in South East Queensland and North East New South Wales, with the game set to take place at Bond University.
The developments come after the Wallaroos announced they would wear the First Nations kit for Tuesday’s Test, with full-back Lori Cramer leading the Anthem promotion.
“I shared the (First Nations) jersey photos on my (Instagram) story and one of my friends Niccy Muller messaged me and said ‘these jerseys are killer’ and I said ‘next time, hopefully we can get the anthem done,’ just because something as a team we’ve been talking about for a while, and she was like ‘we can do this,'” Cramer explained to Rugby.com.au
“I put her in touch with Jenna (Knight, RA Women’s Rugby High-Performance Manager), she spent 72 hours doing it and we got the approval on Thursday, so that’s something that happened in so little time.
“The girls are really excited and we learned a lot about the culture when we came here, so it’s been a really good camp and I’m looking forward to the future when this all continues.”
The Wallaroos will be supported by the Yugambeh Youth Choir, led by founder and director Candace Kruger.
Cramer, whose family ancestry is Yiman from Taroom in central Queensland, is one of three First Nations players selected in the squad to face Japan, joined by Mahalia Murphy and Madison Schuck in the starting squad .
On top of that, Brumbies duo Grace Kemp and Lillyann Mason-Spice produced standout performances in the Barbarians’ loss to Sakura Fifteen, with Cramer hoping to inspire the next generation.
“It’s huge. There are five of us here and the bigger rugby gets the more exposure we get, there are so many girls and boys in the communities who are very good football players and we really need to tap into those communities” , she believes.
“There’s a lot of work to do, but having us here, the exposure that the Wallaroos get around the shirt, it’s going to be huge for us.”
Having learned a lot about his heritage through rugby, Cramer hoped it could foster conversations and acceptance of First Nations culture in the future.
“For me, I didn’t grow up learning a language or a lot of things about my culture, so for me rugby helped me get exposed to those things,” she admits.
“I’ve really learned a lot over the past two years, especially with the Queensland Reds on their Aboriginal programme. I’ve learned a lot through rugby and it’s been a great way to learn about my culture.
“Representing your country and singing the anthem is an absolutely thrilling moment because you watch your family and I really think and I’m passionate about it being a comfortable process and journey for everyone.
“We have a lot of growth to do in this area in Australia and we’re embracing this culture because it’s the oldest in the world, it’s so beautiful and I think we need to have more conversions and do more learning and it’s on us It’s beautiful and really exciting all these girls, everyone wants to learn, we all study and try to learn this anthem and different languages to try to get more knowledge during the trip.
“I can’t wait until Tuesday to sing that anthem, wear those shirts and I’m sure everyone on this team will say the same thing.”