A member of New Zealand Parliament found herself on the losing end of a political scrum Tuesday when she was ejected for wearing the jersey of her local rugby team, the Highlanders.
Clare Curran of New Zealand's left-leaning Labour Party said she wore the traditional blue Highlanders shirt to help draw attention to the team's recent switch to lime green jerseys. She considered it a major concern of her constituents in Dunedin South, the country's seventh most populous city.
But Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith, deemed it inappropriate and banned her from the assembly. He invited her to return, if she chose, once she changed into more acceptable business attire.
"This House has certain dress standards," said Smith, a member of the conservative National Party, to the governing body. "If a male member of this House came in wearing a soccer top or a rugby top, they would be asked to leave."
There may have been more than just political dynamics or style sensibilities at work. The first woman was elected to New Zealand's Parliament in 1933, but one of Curran's fellow female members later tweeted that Smith's decision was rooted in sexism and favoritism.
After being kicked out, Curran told the Otago Daily Times that there is genuine worry that the shift away from the traditional blue, gold and maroon may be a sign that the team will relocate.
"This has become a significant issue," Curran said. "The brand is important to the whole region, the team is important to the whole region and the colors the team wear are important to the whole region.”
The Highlanders, which lost their first match with the new look last week, was formed in a merger of three separate rugby unions in 1995. According to the team's website, each color of the Highlanders' logo and erstwhile jersey represents one of the three union provinces: Gold for North Otago, Blue for Otago and Maroon for Southland. The franchise also operates under the motto of "United We Stand."
It just goes to show a tiger, or Highlander for that matter, can't change its stripes.
-- Watch the jersey flap unfold at the 4:25 mark of this video.
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