Australia’s national rugby team will not take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after a unanimous vote by the players, insisting they were not interested in making political statements.
The Australian Wallabies face the New Zealand All Blacks next Saturday in a Bledisloe Cup contest in Sydney.
Coach Dave Rennie said the idea of kneeling during the national anthem was discussed by the players and they voted against becoming the first Australian national sporting team to do so.
However Australia will wear a new “First Nation” jersey for the contest, Sky Sports reports.
“The key thing is that this is about honouring our Indigenous people and we want the focus to be on that,” Rennie explained.
A rugby fan has been banned from his club's stadium for praising a girl who refused to "take the knee" and criticizing "Marxist extremism and intimidation." https://t.co/JxFaiTpiwI
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) July 6, 2020
“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. Our focus is around the First Nations people and the Indigenous jersey; we’re not looking to make a political statement.”
He said the coaching and management group talked with the team leaders, who then met with the rest of the team and it was a “unanimous decision.”
Former Wallaby captain Nick Farr-Jones backed the move.
“To take the risk of basically splitting the support the Wallabies are starting to earn through their gutsy performances in Wellington and Auckland – just don’t do it guys, it’s too risky,” Farr-Jones said on radio 2GB.
“You run the risk that a few (viewers) would just turn off. They don’t want to see politics in national sport. That’s a real risk. I think it could be divisive.”
The issue of embracing BLM calls to take a knee before kick off is not new to rugby.
Rugby Star Refused to Kneel for BLM for 'Burning Churches and Bibles' https://t.co/6IhzKB6kGY
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 22, 2020
As Breitbart London reported, England rugby star Billy Vunipola has refused to heed the call in the past because, as a Christian, he said he could not support those for whom “burning churches and Bibles” is a way of making a political statement.
“We were asked if we wanted to take a knee or not, and what I saw in terms of that movement [Black Lives Matter] was not aligned with what I believe in. They were burning churches and Bibles. I can’t support that,” said the player in an interview with the ‘The Good, The Bad & The Rugby’ podcast quoted by the Christian Institute.
“Even though I am a person of colour, I’m still more a person of, I guess, Jesus,” added the Australia-born athlete.