Super Rugby

Stormers coach on Black Lives Matter: 'It's all about education and understanding'

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John Dobson (Gallo)
John Dobson (Gallo)
  • Stormers coach John Dobson says they have discussed issues relating to the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Dobson says they are working towards a greater level of education and understanding on the matter.
  • The Stormers mentor stresses that players cannot be forced into one action of the other.

Stormers coach John Dobson says they have taken note of matters pertaining to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and are working towards a greater level of understanding.

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Across the sporting fraternity, several codes have reacted to the movement, with some players opting to take a knee in showing their support for BLM.

The South African rugby season will resume on 26 September with a double-header at Loftus Versfeld, with the Stormers scheduled to tackle the Lions and the Bulls taking on the Sharks on 'Super Fan Saturday’.

It's unsure if the players will also adopt a stance on the BLM issue, but Dobson told reporters in a virtual meeting on Thursday that they addressed the issue.

"For us, it's all about education and understanding. We're not sure what the directive [from SA Rugby] will be, or if there will be any, but we've already started a series of talks internally and with facilitators, so that we will stay together no matter what."

In the English Premiership, for example, players have reacted differently with some taking a knee or standing in circles, while players also wore 'Rugby Against Racism' T-shirts.

Dobson said he would not want to force anything onto his players.

"Whether someone takes a different view or decision, that is fine, as long as we can understand why. Consensus on this sort of subject is thorny, and we'd love to get there, but it's all about continuing talks. This is an opportunity, not a threat, to continue the conversation to reach a greater level of understanding, and that's what we're working towards.

"It's a process that will be ongoing and something we must buy into it for all. Siya (Kolisi, Stormers captain) has been phenomenal in this regard, and has said to the team 'no matter how it goes I'm not going to judge, but I just want to understand'. It's actually an opportunity for us, for all society."

There was some controversy at the Sale Sharks where eight South African players opted not to take a knee.

Dobson said he would not want to see a repeat scenario but acknowledged that forcing the players into doing something may not be wise.

"Aesthetically, a directive may be fairer on the players, but we don't want a situation of what happened at Sale. [But] the last thing we want to do is force someone onto their feet or onto their knees. Let's say we get a directive, and if a player feels strongly one way or another, he would expose himself if he broke that directive.

"Ultimately though, for us, it's all about understanding. If it's left down to players, it will be fine as long as there's a level of understanding. And our approach is just to educate and understand."

- Compiled by Herman Mostert

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