MyPlayers encourages personal choice over demonstrations

Players representative body MyPlayers has outlined that it will not be taking a collective stance on any political movement, including Black Lives Matter.

Since the resumption of rugby in Europe, various teams have demonstrated different interpretations of the ‘Rugby Against Racism’ campaign.

For example, the Sale Sharks players have all worn ‘Rugby Against Racism’ T-shirts, but not all of those players opted to kneel prior to kick-off. This action has become a powerful symbol related to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Without any stipulation from England’s RFU as to how teams must respond, it has led to a variety of responses, with some teams standing in circles.

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In South Africa, reports around some South African players remaining standing last week drew a response from sports minister Nathi Mthethwa, who has asked SA Rugby president Mark Alexander to provide clarity in regard to the players’ decision.

However, the DA, AfriForum and Solidarity subsequently hit back at Mthethwa, while Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond said players should be allowed to demonstrate free choice.

This has all led to the question as to how South African players will respond when the rugby season begins again.

In a statement released on Wednesday, players’ representative body MyPlayers outlined that while South African players are encouraged to promote their beliefs on a cause in a manner they see fit, the body itself will not risk dividing its members by taking a collective stance on any issue.

As the representative body for all South African professional rugby players, MyPlayers is committed to respect, promote and fulfil the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom that are enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

In the words of the Constitution, everyone has the right to life, has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.  Everyone is equal before the law and no one may unfairly discriminate against anyone on grounds such as race, gender, colour, sexual orientation, religion, belief, culture and language. As an organisation, MyPlayers is dedicated to a society that strives to achieve these rights for all citizens in all spheres of life.

The Constitution also bestows various rights to freedom on its citizens, including the right to freedom of religion, belief and opinion, the right to freedom of association, as well as the right to freedom of expression. In line with the Constitution, MyPlayers respects these rights to freedom that the members of the Players’ Organisation have in respect of particular causes that they wish to support. The members are responsible and entitled to develop their own beliefs and opinions on any cause and should be allowed to promote them in a manner they deem fit.

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As a diverse and inclusive professional body that represents all South Africans and its communities when our members are on the rugby field playing for the Springboks and the various other national and provincial teams, MyPlayers has no intention and mandate to take a collective position on any cause that may lead to divisions among its members, rugby supporters and the public at large.  We are often reminded of the immortal words of Nelson Mandela: ‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.’

MyPlayers does not want to squander this opportunity to contribute to a South Africa that is united in diversity. 

In principle and conduct, the dedication of MyPlayers to a free, fair and just South Africa is resolute.

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