Sports minister seeks answers after SA rugby players refuse to bend knee for Black Lives Matter

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Sale Sharks  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Sale Sharks (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
  • Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa seeks more clarity on why several SA rugby players opted not to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in England.
  • Eight South Africans at Sale and two at other clubs remained standing prior to the Premiership's resumption.
  • Although the players did wear "Rugby Against Racism" T-shirts, the minister wants answers from SA Rugby.

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa wants answers from SA Rugby after South African players opted not to kneel in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement before last weekend's English Premiership matches.

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Upon the Premiership's return, tournament organisers allowed the 12 clubs to determine how they would support the campaign.

The players wore "Rugby Against Racism" T-shirts, but not many opted to take the knee in support of the BLM campaign.

At the Sale Sharks, where eight South Africans turned out against Harlequins, none of Jono Ross, Faf de Klerk, Coenie Oosthuizen, Akker van der Merwe, Dan du Preez, Robert du Preez, Lood de Jager or Jean-Luc du Preez opted to kneel.

They were joined by England centre, Manu Tuilagi, Wales prop, Willgriff John and Scotland wing Byron McGuigan, with only Sam Hill, Simon Hammersley, Tom Curry and Marland Yarde (all of England) opting to take the knee, as well as four of the seven substitutes.

In other matches, Gloucester's Ruan Ackerman and Worcester Warriors' Francois Venter also opted to remain standing.

During a press conference on Monday, Mthethwa commented on the matter: "We 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 but we did say we want to understand what's happening‚ and what is the position of SA Rugby in this whole thing.

"The first thing we noted is that they were wearing the T-shirts which support [the] BLM movement but they did not kneel."

The sports minister added that he contacted SA Rugby president Mark Alexander for more clarity.

"Upon seeing this‚ I interacted with SA Rugby through its president 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."

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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