The Wallabies have ruled out kneeling during the national anthem in the third Bledisloe Test against the All Blacks on 31 October after a unanimous vote by the players.
Coach Dave Rennie has confirmed that the idea was discussed in the Wallabies’ team camp, but that they decided against it because don’t want to ‘make a political statement’ and would rather honour Indigenous Australians when they wear their special edition First Nations jersey against the All Blacks.
This comes after fullback Dane Haylett-Petty said earlier in the week that it [kneeling] would be a great thing for us to do’, where after former Wallaby Nick Farr-Jones said the team shouldn’t kneel because BLM is a divisive movement.
During a teleconference on Friday, Rennie said they are not looking to make a political statement but rather to honour Indigenous Australians.
‘The key thing is that this is about honouring our Indigenous people and we want the focus to be on that. I guess everyone has got their own opinions around the other situation but we want the focus to be around reflecting on our history and our past.
‘We met with the leaders and the leaders met with the team. It’s an unanimous decision.’
Rennie then said his playing group wanted to see the Indigenous part of the Australian culture represented in the regular gold Wallabies jersey, not just as a one-off.
‘We’ve certainly talked about the Indigenous jersey and as a group we’d like to see that represented every week in our Test jersey, not just as a one-off. I think this is the first step in regard to embracing that part of our history.
‘What we’re trying to highlight is First Nations is part of our DNA. It needs to be reflected in what we do every day, not just one or two times a year. We think having that reflected on our Test jersey every week is really important.’
Rugby Australia released a statement shortly after Rennie’s teleconference, with interim chief executive Rob Clarke saying the organisation condemned racism in the wake of Farr Jones’ controversial comments.
‘Rugby Australia and the Wallabies condemn any form of racism or discrimination and also acknowledge that we are still on the path to reconciliation,’ Clarke said.
‘I’m really pleased the players and management have come together to speak about this, as they would with other important social issues. It was measured, appropriate and mature and I congratulate the team as they explore more opportunities to recognise issues facing First Nations people and all Australians.’