Feedback will be provided to sports minister Nathi Mthethwa after he asked SA Rugby to provide clarity in response to certain players opting not to take a knee prior to the latest English Premiership matches.
This past weekend there were a variety of responses from teams as they were given freedom to demonstrate different interpretations of the ‘Rugby Against Racism’ campaign.
Sale Sharks players – in one example – all wore ‘Rugby Against Racism’ T-shirts, but only four of the starting XV – Englishmen Marland Yarde, Tom Curry, Simon Hammersley and Sam Hill – chose to kneel prior to kick-off against Harlequins on Friday. This action has become a powerful symbol related to the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, 11 players in the starting lineup chose to remain standing, including eight South African players. Elsewhere, South Africans Ruan Ackermann and Francois Venter also opted to stay standing.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Mthethwa said they ‘do not want to jump the gun on the specific matter of the South African players in England who didn’t kneel in support of the BLM movement’.
However, he added they did want to ‘understand what’s happening’‚ and enquired about the position of SA Rugby.
‘The first thing we noted is that they were wearing the T-shirts which support [the] BLM movement but they did not kneel.
‘Upon seeing this‚ I interacted with SA Rugby through its president [Mark Alexander] and I asked him to explain what’s happening so that we are on the same wavelength.
‘You must remember we were together at the World Cup in Japan as a country with some of the players and one thing which cannot be tolerated is when somebody is displaying racist behaviour and showing racist attitude.
‘The president of SA Rugby did say that they are going to be having their own meeting and they will make their views known.’
On Tuesday, SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux confirmed Alexander and the executive council would meet and provide feedback as requested.
‘Everything that was done in the past can be quite quickly forgotten, but I have no doubt that we remain stronger together.’