As the sport of rugby league celebrates its 125th Anniversary, one of its most famous, recognisable and decorated clubs is looking to evolve as the sport faces up to another set of challenges in the 21st century.
In the digital age, with competition for fans’ attention and interest – both future and current – all Super League clubs are facing a challenge to remain at the forefront of sports’ fans thoughts, as the way supporters consume the wonderful product of rugby league continues to change. The challenge? To create a Wigan Warrior that’s prepared to face it in a way that Wigan Rugby League Club has always faced challenges in this sport: leading from the front, prepared to be bold, to show steeliness and resolve. It needs a Warrior that can tap into the rich lineage and strong foundations that give this sporting institution the virtues and DNA that have made it the sport’s most successful Club.
The current Wigan Warriors crest is the most traditional in the sport. The crest will always remain part of the Club’s identity and will still have a key role to play for the Club moving forward. This rebrand is not a binary proposition. Not out with the old and in with the new. Yet, when faced with the reality of inspiring a new generation of supporters to carry our rich tradition forward, to find new fans away from the sport and to maximise our exposure on digital platforms and broadcast media, providing commercial opportunities to secure this sport’s future. In the uncertain climate we are experiencing, change is needed. Moving forward to a world class identity is the reason underpinning this period of transformation.
“Those who drink from the well should always remember who dug it.” – Chinese proverb
Any change to such a distinctive and recognisable crest – a crest that invokes memories and tradition that have been passed down from generation to generation – is one that needs to be with that weight of history as part of the process. During the research, it was identified that the town of Wigan, the original town coat of arms and key language, iconography and colourings would guide this process.
It was decided that the ‘Brigante Warrior’ – who in pre-Roman times controlled the largest section of what would become Northern England and had roots and lineage in the town of Wigan – would be referenced in this design. Elements of the Warrior’s facial expression, distinctive hair, face markings, helmet and shield would form part of the process that brings to life the Warrior moniker that has been part of the Wigan Rugby League’s Super League story.
Two non-negotiables that the Club couldn’t lose in any rebrand would be the Cherry and White colour scheme and Club motto: Ancient & Loyal. The Wigan Warriors fanbase is the 18th man. No more so has the Club seen this than in the incredible reaction to the Covid-19 crisis and the resulting uncertainty all sport, indeed, society is facing. These two elements are proudly represented and referenced in the new crest, adding to the commitment that we must harbour and hone that tradition in any rebrand exercise.
The Warrior itself needed to represent that steeliness that Wigan rugby league is famous for. How many times has a Wigan rugby league side, a Wigan player, sportsman or sportswoman shown that glare, that pierced gaze – imperturbable, implacable, immensely focused – when achieving greatness? This is what sets this wonderful institution apart from others. A relentless focus on success, a resilience and confidence that one can only have through experience. Others look to attain this greatness; Wigan Rugby League Club possess this in its very being.