Revealed: SA Rugby's stance against racism
NEWS: South African Rugby plans to reveal it’s ‘collective’ stance against racism and inequalities in society at Saturday’s SuperFan day in Pretoria.
SA Rugby Chief Executive Officer Jurie Roux, in communications with provincial presidents and CEOs this week, revealed his plans for the big event.
This includes the broadcasting of a “credo” in the stadium and on the television transmission of the matchday activities.
A spokesman for SA Rugby confirmed to @rugby365com that a “statement” will be issued on Saturday, but declined to elaborate on the details of the events.
However, this website can confirm that Roux’s communications this week relate to the “extensive debate on rugby’s response to the global conversation on racism”.
This was prompted by the worldwide #BLM movement in relation to events in the United States.
It caused a considerable stir in South Africa when South Africa’s Minister of Sport, Nathi Mthethwa, revealed that he had approached SA Rugby for ‘clarity’ over the failure of a host of players who failed to ‘take a knee’ in support of the #BLM movement before Premiership matches in England this past weekend.
Players had worn T-shirts supporting the fight against racism.
However, 11 Sale Sharks players chose to remain standing – with eight being South Africans, namely Coenie Oosthuizen, Armand van der Merwe, Jean-Luc du Preez, Lodewyk de Jager, captain Jono Ross, Dan du Preez, Faf de Klerk and Rob du Preez.
The eight were joined by England centre Manu Tuilagi, Welsh prop WillGriff John and Scotland wing Byron McGuignon.
South Africans Ruan Ackermann and Francois Venter also remained standing during Gloucester and Worcester Warriors fixtures at the weekend.
Mthethwa subsequently sought clarification from SA Rugby President Mark Alexander on the stance of the players.
The SA Rugby CEO, Roux, said he had hoped to avoid similar fall-out with Saturday’s display.
“It is important to note that we are aware and accept that SA Rugby will be criticised for almost any approach we take,” Roux said in his communications to the unions and franchises.
He hopes Saturday’s message will be delivered in such a way as to “remove or minimise the opportunity for individual players to be vilified from either end of the social media spectrum”.
Roux’s proposal include:
1. That as the players take the field – both teams side by side – that the “credo” below is broadcast in the stadium and on the SuperSport transmission.
2. To coincide with the teams’ appearance, SA Rugby will issue a media release explaining the motivation and incorporating the credo.
3. That the players make their way on to the field as they normally would – taking up their positions, kneeling in prayer (or for any other reason), handshaking with colleagues, passing the ball or however they normally make final preparations
4. The referee blows the whistle for kick-off without any further preamble.
According to the communications to the unions and franchises, Roux’s proposal would apply to the first match of the SuperFan Saturday doubleheader and the subsequent Springbok Green versus Gold Showdown in Cape Town a week later.
It is unclear if the wording of Roux’s proposed ‘credo’ has changed or will be changed, but @rugby365com can reveal the gist of the message.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION CREDO
South African rugby is committed to an environment where all are welcome, irrespective of race, colour, creed or gender.
We acknowledge the painful inequalities of our country’s past – and its present – and that they must be eradicated.
We must maintain and continuously improve an environment that is fair and respectful, where people from different backgrounds feel accepted and valued.
An environment that recognizes and embodies the fact that everyone is worthy of being heard and in which all can thrive.
We acknowledge that the only thing that separates one person from another is opportunity.
That we must strive harder to eliminate discrimination and inequality amongst administrators, players and officials.
That we must work harder to create a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported.
We acknowledge that South Africa’s Bill of Rights grants everyone the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.
But we are single-minded in opposing racists and racism, and discrimination of any kind.
Ours is a sport for all; where we celebrate diversity and inclusion; and are committed to a better future for all.
We celebrate success together; and we suffer pain, hardship and losses together.
Our focus is on the things that bind us, not those that would divide us.
We are South Africa, with all it challenges, issues and disparity.
But as South Africans, we have proved that we are stronger together. We will not be divided.
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Stormers coach John Dobson, in a recent media briefing, said that his team – a tight-knit unit – has focussed hard on “education and understanding” around the issue of racism.
“We are an amazingly diverse, unified and cheerful group,” Dobson told a virtual media briefing about his team, which include World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi.
“It is not just about colour,” he said, adding: “Diversity comes in many different forms and this diversity thing is something we are really proud of.”
It is unclear what the individual players and teams will be doing on Saturday, but SA Rugby appear to be proactive in their handling of a very sensitive situation.
Also worth reading …
Education key as Stormers tackle ‘racism’
#BLM: SA Rugby still ‘stronger together’
Kolisi breaks silence on #BLM
Player backlash on minister’s #BLM stance
#BLM: Minister seeks ‘clarity’ on players not taking a knee