National colours.

I always wonder while watching the Olympics but this time I am wondering because of the Rugby world cup.
Where do National colours come from? Why are red, blue and green so popular? And is NZ the only country with black as a national colour?

This should probably be in GQ but I thought it may end up more an opinion thing.

Georgia’s national colors are Burgandy (more of a deep rust actually), black and white.

Belgium’s are part of the Holy Roman Empire’s colors, same as Germany.

The African colors are just the traditional colors (black, green, rend, yellow) of cloth, based on local dyes.

Australia’s national sporting colours (officially gazetted in 1983?) are green and gold, but the national colours are gazetted to be blue and gold.

Almost no-one knows that last bit, though.

And I know that Jamaican athletes usually wear black stripes, as do the Kenyans, but I don’t know if those are part of their national colours per se.

Canada: red and white (of course). :slight_smile:

Antarctica’s color should of course be white on white. :wink:

From watching the Olympics and other international sporting events, it appears that most nations use the colors of their flags for their uniform colors; I’m curious as to how the colors are chosen for those countries that are exceptions to this rule.

Well, threeorange, funny you should ask. :slight_smile:

See, most sports teams from the Netherlands wear orange jerseys. As most people know, the Dutch flag is red, white, and blue. So why orange?

Well, our royal family is called Van Oranje Nassau (“of Orange Nassau”), so it’s a reference to that. In fairness, the red banner in our flag used to be orange (until a disgruntled Queen changed it to red when the orange/white/blue flag became a symbol for Dutch supremacists), so it’s debatable whether we truly are an exception to the rule, here.

To directly answer these questions:

  1. National colours come from anywhere and everywhere, it depends which ones you’re talking about.

  2. Blue, red and green are popular because originally they were visually striking. They just look really good. Of course, many countries now have those colours because other countries had them originally - the red in Canada’s flag is a direct descendant of the red in England’s flag, for instance. Many countries copied the red white and blue motif of the USA and UK. Many countries have adopted the green of Islam.

As to countries using different colours on sporting outfits, there’s lot of examples of that aside from the Dutch. The Italian soccer squad wears blue, and is actually called the “Azzuri,” but blue is not on the Italian flag. Canadian athletes for many years wore various shades of yellow and gold on Olympic uniforms for what reason I don’t really know, although that seems to be passe. The Kiwis wear black. Who knows why?

An interesting aside to this is that in the old days of international motor sport, cars would be painted in a particular color based on which country they came from. Thus, British racing green, the “official” color of British racing cars, and still used by Jaguar to good effect. Ferraris are red because the original Ferraris were red. Of course, green is nowhere on the UK flag, and Italian athletes usually wear blue. The French had gotten into motorsport earlier though, and taken blue for themselves already.
Mercedes uses so many silver models in its ad campaigns to hearken back to the “Silver Arrows”- the Benz and Auto Union racers of the 30’s. How Germany ended up with silver, I have no idea… This all continued basically up until Colin Chapman’s Lotus 72, IIRC, which he painted black and gold per the wishes of the John Player Special cigarette brand.

Red and blue in particular are relatively easy to make and keep (without excessive fading, that is) with natural dyes. Countries whose flags/colors were chosen before the invention of synthetic dyes in the mid-19th century are quite likely to have chosen red, or blue, or both.

I’ve been told the blue that Italian athletes use was chosen because it was the color of the Italian royal family. It has, of course, been decades since Italy had a royal family, but the color has become traditional.

I live in China and I believe the colors here are actually Red and Gold, not yellow. Anyone else use Gold?

Is British Racing Green a “National Color?”

I note British cars are green, Italian white, French blue and Americans red.

I wonder why.

Iraq’s flag has a black bottom part no ? If its still a country.

Paul… look 2 posts above yours.

I think the OP was asking about colours worn on sporting costumes rather than national flags. There are numerous countries that have black on their flag, especially in the Middle East and Africa. Most national teams’ colours do seem to be taken from their countries’ flags though.

England is another exception. For most sports, English teams wear white shirts (which does appear on the English flag) and dark blue shorts (which does not). I don’t believe there is an official explanation for this, although they are standard colours worn at school for physical education, and I always assumed it was an example of the “got there first” factor of many team sports and the English.

Scotland typically reverses the English colours – dark blue shirts and white shorts. That combination does resemble the Scottish flag. Wales wears red and white, which both appear in its flag; ditto the green and white of Ireland.

BigNik has already said that gold is one of Australia’s colours. South Africa also wears green and gold although those are not traditional flag colours for that country either.

Here are some theories regarding the origin of British Racing Green.

The legend goes that it derives from their national rugby union team.

A sports writer for the UK Daily Mail in 1905 commented that the NZ team of the day in a match against played like a team of “all backs”. Somehow that got corrupted in a printing error to form the headline “New Zealand All Blacks”. The name stuck and the team adopted an all-black strip.

The only problem with this legend is, of course, that the team was already playing in a mostly black with some white strip. There’s a good chance that it was chosen so as to contrast with the English strip of the time which was all white.

The Australian green came from the caps worn by its cricket team, which were originally blue, but were changed so as to contrast with the English. The 1899 touring team carried jumpers banded in the colours of “gum green and wattle gold”.

The original Australian rugby strip was actually blue and maroon, representing the two major colonies’ unions - the maroon of New South Wales and the dark blue of Queensland (later NSW moved to a sky blue and Queensland, in response, took the maroon). Both the rugby league and rugby unions changed to a green-and-gold strip in the 1920s - the league team to a green guernsey with gold highlights, the union team to a gold guernsey with green highlights in order not to clash with South Africa.

And, Mahaloth, in my experience every country with “yellow” as one of their colours uses the term “gold” - as a pseudoarmitage thing. Same colour, but everyone calls it “gold”.

German cars used to be white. In 1934 Mercedes built their new car and discovered it was 1kg over the limit, so the engineers worked all night sanding off the white paint to get down to bare aluminum. Mercedes left racing for 30 years after the accident at Le Mans in 1955. When they came back, the bodywork was all made of composite materials and had to be painted silver to keep the tradition.

Italian cars were red. And they still are, check out a Formula 1 Ferrari.

The U.S. didn’t do much international racing back when the national colors were still in force, so I’m not sure what our official color was. As near as I can tell, it was dark blue and white; the body was one color with a double stripe of the other running along the hood, roof and trunk.

What a fascinating read! Thanks! :slight_smile:

Robot Arm, read the story I just quoted from everton. Italy only got red after the US sort of ditched that colour in favour of the blue/white scheme.

Also, not all Italian racing teams have been red, certainly not to this day. The Minardi F1 team is Italian, and runs predominantly black cars. Going back in history, I can recall the yellow Fortis of the mid 90’s, the black Andrea Modas (DNPQ-kings if ever there were a couple!) of the early 90’s, the blue Lamborghinis of the early 90’s… the list goes on.

Suffice it to say: national colours are no longer relevant, nor required.