Wauchope Thunder provided the inspiration for Alan Wheatland and Mid North Coast rugby union referees to pay their respects to First Nations people.
In 2021, the men with the whistle will take the field wearing jerseys emblazoned with indigenous art as a way of acknowledging and paying respect to the region's diverse and rich indigenous history.
"The Thunder have pieces of Birpai art on their jersey, their commitment gave me the idea and I took my inspiration from them," Wheatland said.
Wheatland hopes it will be a powerful message and start conversations.
"We have four language groups across Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Port Macquarie and Forster and the jersey design represents all four of those language groups," he said.
"I was having a chat to someone last week and asked them if they recognised their language group on the design and they said yes.
"I was pleased the jersey had meaning for people watching as well as playing."
Indigenous artist Angela Marr-Grogan painted representations of each of the individual language groups of the Gumbaynggir, Dunghutti, Birpai and Worimi peoples.
Last weekend was the first time the referees wore the jersey this season and it was warmly received by both players and spectators alike.
Every time a referee walks onto the field from Coffs Harbour down to Forster in these shirts it provides a constant reminder.- Alan Wheatland
"It's permanent," Wheatland said.
"Several refs have said they intend to wear it from now on because it sends a powerful message and the fact we're playing on Aboriginal land is part of our reconciliation process.
"It's a slow process. Our aim is for the First Nations people to be recognised permanently."
South Australia is believed to have also brought in an indigenous themed jersey for all their referees in the hope it can be an inspiration for other codes.
"I don't see why clubs can't incorporate their First Nations communities into their jerseys because so many Aboriginal players are playing all codes and I think they should be acknowledged," Wheatland said.
"It can play a large part in strengthening that bond between mainstream culture and indigenous culture.
"Every time a referee walks onto the field from Coffs Harbour down to Forster in these shirts it provides a constant reminder.
"It was a unanimous decision last year. Everyone said 'let's spend some money on that'."
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