University Sporting Colours: Why ‘The Blacks’?


Many University sporting teams have adopted the moniker of ‘The Blacks’.  This refers to the University’s team colours of black and white, the origin of which is not clear. Photographs of University teams from the 1890s, show fairly conclusively that black and white was used from the outset.

University Lacrosse Team, 1895, Series 524.


They were certainly adopted by the Sports Association at its formation in 1896. The most likely connection is with the state symbol of the white-backed magpie, which is included on the original Association crest.


Old Sports Association Crest - courtesy of University Sport





The programme for the launch of the University Grandstand and Boat Shed in 1910 was embellished with a black and white ribbon, but it wasn’t until 1928 that the Association sought to confirm with the University Council that black and white be recognised as the University’s official colours.  The Council’s response was that it did “not contemplate taking any steps that will interfere with the use of black and white”. (Series 200 Docket 1928/124)

Programme for the Opening of the Sports Ground, 1910, Series 720.





Today, ‘The Blacks’ is a name that engenders great pride in the University sporting community.  Many clubs were foundation members of their respective state associations or leagues and for some their success is legendary.  The Adelaide University Football Club, for example, is the only club to have been represented at A1 level in every year the South Australian Amateur Football League (SAAFL) has operated, and in the 1960s it was the largest football club in Australia.

AUFC Annual Report, 2005, Series 625.


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2 Responses

  1. Daren says:

    The crest pictured is a more recent version of the AUSA’s crest (1990s). The older historic version incorporates a lamp in lieu of the University crest.

  2. Susan Coppin says:

    You’re absolutely correct, Daren. The ‘old’ reference here is to the version previous to the new logo and image for Adelaide University Sport which can be seen on The Blacks website –