- SA rugby's players' union, MyPlayers, says it will not take a stance on any public campaign.
- The Black Lives Matter movement continues to be a major talking point in South African sport.
- In a statement, MyPlayers said it had "no intention and mandate to take a collective position on any cause that may lead to divisions among its members."
South African rugby's player representative body, MyPlayers, will not be taking a collective stance on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
The international sporting community has seen athletes across a range of sporting codes use their platforms to take a knee in support of BLM over the last couple of months.
Closer to home, the movement has been a major talking point in South African cricket in recent weeks and, on 18 July, every person involved in the Solidarity Cup at SuperSport Park in Centurion took a knee before the first ball of the day was bowled.
SA Rugby, meanwhile, has been far less vocal on the movement but the spotlight was shining brightly on rugby when, two weekends ago, 10 South Africans playing in the English Premiership remained standing when others took a knee for the movement.
It was particularly noticeable at the Sale Sharks where a total of eight South Africans, including World Cup winners Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager, opted to stand.
That stance drew a reaction out of sports minister Nathi Mthethwa, who had demanded answers from SA Rugby.
In a statement released on Wednesday, MyPlayers made its position clear, citing the South African constitution and a need to give players the freedom to support any movements they choose.
"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," the statement read.
Full MyPlayers statement:
"In light of a number of recent campaigns in sport, including rugby, where individuals and teams have taken a stand on certain events and movements, MyPlayers has been asked for a formal statement and stance regarding these events and movements or causes.
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.
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."
- Compiled by Sport24 staff