SA Rugby is set to embrace ‘diversity and inclusion’ when local action resumes with a double-header on Super Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
On Saturday, live action in South Africa will get under way for the first time in over six months, with the Sharks and Vodacom Bulls facing off at 4:25pm, before the Stormers and Lions head into action at 6:55pm.
There is no doubt, though, that there will also be attention on what takes place before these two games kick off, with discussions around the decision of athletes to take the knee or not before competition having been prevalent across different sporting codes worldwide.
Taking a knee has become a global symbol of showing support for the BLM movement, and Saturday’s action will be the first time the response from SA Rugby is set to come into the spotlight.
It’s been revealed that there has been communication from SA Rugby to unions on the subject, and that there are plans for a collective stance to be taken against racism and inequalities, including the sharing of a ‘credo’ in the television broadcast and at the ground.
As the teams make their appearance, it is believed SA Rugby will issue a statement explaining the motivation and incorporating the credo, which includes the fact ‘South African rugby is committed to an environment where all are welcome, irrespective of race, colour, creed or gender’.
Part of the proposal suggests that as players take the field, they will have the freedom and be encouraged to take up their positions and kneel if they so choose (in prayer or for any other reason) before greeting ‘colleagues’ and continuing any final preparations.
Last week, Stormers coach John Dobson explained that the Cape-based team had conducted open internal discussions over topics such as diversity and #BLM, which were centred around a culture of ‘understanding’ the decision-making of each individual.
In a Zoom media conference on Thursday, Sharks coach Sean Everitt said the Durban-based side already had a very clearly defined culture when it comes to this topic.
‘At the Sharks we embrace diversity, and respect everyone’s culture and background. We all get on really well here at Sharks, there’s a good spirit here. SA Rugby has delivered a directive and we’ll follow suit.’