Stormers captain Siya Kolisi says continuing open discussions over issues in South Africa is more important than what takes place before Saturday’s matches. DYLAN JACK 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 at 4:25pm, before the Stormers and Lions head into action at 6:55pm.
There is no doubt that there will be attention on what also 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 CEO 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 TV 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 phrase ‘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 to take up their positions and kneel (in prayer or for any other reason) before greeting ‘colleagues’ and continuing any final preparations.
Last week, Stormers coach John Dobson explained that the team had conducted open discussions over topics such as diversity and #BLM, which were centred around a culture of ‘understanding’ the decision-making of each individual. Dobson hailed Stormers and Springboks captain Siya Kolisi’s leadership in this regard.
Speaking in an online media conference on Thursday, Kolisi emphasised that for the Stormers, it is about more than just what happens on Saturday and that the team was focused on continuing conversations and educating themselves beyond the weekend.
‘Obviously, that has been the biggest conversation that’s been happening around the world,’ Kolisi said. ‘Here in South Africa, there’s our own things that we are going through, a lot of social issues. So we have tried to narrow it down to what’s happening in our country.
‘We pride ourselves in our diversity at the Stormers. One thing that we all know, we are all different races and from different backgrounds. We decided that we don’t have enough education around what’s going on. Some might have different experiences. Dobbo [coach Dobson] offered to get us somebody to come in and speak to us, to get us talking and having the conversations on what’s going on in our environment and South Africa.
‘That’s what we did as a team. We want to have more conversations around this, just internally.
‘Regarding this game, we know that one session is not enough. We decided as a team that we want this to be a continuous thing until we get the perfect solution on how we can all be united as a team and how that can spread through the system.
‘There are so many things people can do to show their support for this. As long as we are getting the education and growing each week, what somebody does is up to them. We are not going to judge each other. It is all about getting the conversation started. We have to respect the decisions that everybody makes and their answer for it.
‘It is tough that we have only had one session for Saturday’s game. It was hard for us to say what we are going to do. But one thing we want is continuous education, so we can all get to a place where we are comfortable in this environment.’
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