With the 2023 NRLW season fast approaching, the Dragons are set to roll out newly-designed playing and training kits crafted in partnership with Classic Sportswear to enhance player comfort and performance.
With women’s rugby league among the fastest growing sports in the country, the club’s goal is to continue to empower female athletes and play a leading role in the landscape’s evolution.
In previous seasons, the NRLW squad members have been forced to wear uniforms that were the same cut and fit as the men’s uniforms only in smaller sizes.
The Dragons are proud to have been working alongside Classic and in consultation with the playing group since last season to design uniforms worthy of our elite athletes.
Key Account Manager at Classic Sportswear Kate Aquilina was proud to have led and managed the working groups and wearer trials.
“It was a great opportunity to work alongside the St George Illawarra Dragons NRLW team to improve the functionality and appearance of their kit,” Aquilina said.
“The NRLW athlete uniform requirements vary substantially from the everyday female athlete both in fit, fabrication, and design.
"Our Classic product team worked with the NRLW players to provide solutions to bulkiness, gaping, immodesty and lack of femininity to craft the 2023 kit which will support and enhance their performance.”
A number of changes have been made to the club’s uniform for the upcoming season beginning on Saturday 22 July.
The changes will not only benefit the NRLW squad members but also those competing in the Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership, Tarsha Gale Cup, and Lisa Fiaola Cup.
Studies have shown that uncomfortable and ill-designed uniforms present a considerable barrier for women of all ages pursuing both community and professional sport.
The call has been made to ditch traditional, white shorts in an effort to reduce anxiety surrounding menstruation in sport.
Red accents have been added to the neckline and sleeves of the jersey along with white accents at the top of the shorts to assist in integrating the newly-designed, red shorts into the uniform’s overall look.
Jerseys, shorts, and training apparel have been cut and tapered to fit the female body with the shorts featuring a wide, flat waistband that ensures they sit at the correct height at the waist and crotch.
Excess fabric has been removed from the front of shorts with a gusset added to increase comfort whilst the fabric of the shorts has been designed to allow for a higher range of movement when kicking and running.
The jersey, which features a stretchier, lightweight fabric that allows for a tighter fit, has been tapered at the waist and widened at the hips which has resulted in the removal of excess fabric under the bust which, along with an adjusted neckline and shortened sleeves, makes life harder on opposition defenders.
Tara McGrath-West, who was one of the players who was a part of the trial process, is delighted with how the uniform turned out.
“Classic came in with a few of us girls and we tried on bits and pieces just to see the design that would suit us best compared to what we had last year,” McGrath-West said.
“I love the fitting. Even the shorts are so much more comfortable compared to last year. Having a female fit is just amazing and having red shorts obviously helps us a lot more than the white ones, so it’s really good.”
McGrath-West says that she is proud to be a part of a club that is focused on prioritising the comfortability of its female athletes.
“To have a club that puts that as a priority for you as a player is a huge part of it and makes me really proud to be a part of the Dragons,” she said.
“It just shows how much us girls mean to them… I’m excited to get out there and wear that jersey and the new shorts. It was comfortable when we wore it for our media shoot, so, when we’re out there playing, I’m sure it will do its job just fantastic.”
Dragons NRLW football manager Steve Nielsen credits the players for making the uniform issues known to the club.
“A couple of the girls came to us last year after we’d played a game here at Wollongong in the wet,” Nielsen said.
“They had the white shorts on and they were quite see-through and the girls weren’t comfortable with that, so they asked could we go and change the shorts… We’ve gone through Classic who have given us the shorts and the girls think they’re excellent. They’re women’s fit too which makes them even better.”
He was pleased that the work the club has done in partnership with Classic has resulted in wide-ranging benefits across the women’s sporting landscape.
“It just carried on from there after some of the girls approached us last year, so we thought we’d have a look and that’s what we came up with Classic,” he said.
“We’ve found that a couple of the other clubs now have followed suit with it, so we look at ourselves as a bit of a leader there and in women’s sport.”