#BLM: Premiership players reveal their stance
SPOTLIGHT: The Premiership is back and has already caused a major controversy as a few players opted against taking a knee in support of Black Lives Matter before the opening round of matches.
Sale Sharks seem to be at the forefront of the highly-debated movement after eleven players chose not to take the knee before their Premiership match against Harlequins on Friday.
All the players wore ‘Rugby Against Racism’ T-shirts support for the #BLM.
However only four of the starting XV – Englishmen Marland Yarde, Tom Curry, Simon Hammersley and Sam Hill – opted to kneel, along with four of the seven replacements.
The 11 players in the starting lineup, who chose to remain standing, included eight South Africans – Coenie Oosthuizen, Akker van der Merwe, Jean-Luc du Preez, Lood de Jager, captain Jono Ross, Dan du Preez, Faf de Klerk and Rob du Preez, England centre Manu Tuilagi, Welsh prop WillGriff John and Scotland wing Byron McGuignon (who were both born in Namibia).
The Sale Sharks players are not the only ones who have opted against taking a knee.
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS 🦈| It may not have been our night last night…
— Sale Sharks🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) August 15, 2020
South African Ruan Ackermann was the only Gloucester player to remain standing before his team’s fixture against Worcester Warriors on Saturday.
While, four WorcesterWarriors – including Francios Venter – also did not partake in the prematch gesture.
The options to not drop a knee has been accompanied with criticism and a clear split in rugby union, however, the Premiership has given the clubs and players the freedom to determine how they will support the anti-Racism campaign.
Ahead of the weekend’s matches, the Premiership confirmed that every club would be taking some form of action this weekend in order to “mark their commitment to racial equality”.
While prior to Friday’s Sale Sharks captain Ross said his side were united in being opposed to racism in all forms.
“As a squad, we are all completely against racism in all forms, and I think we’ll make that clear on Friday,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone in our squad or across the Premiership is racist,”
By the grand gesture and t-shirts, it is clear that all 12 English Premiership clubs are unified in the fight against racism and agreed on the ‘Rugby against Racism’ campaign.
However, the Evening Standard Newspaper reported that players want to know exactly what they will be kneeling for, given the reluctance to be associated with any political messages that have been attached to the Black Lives Matter movement.
🗣 Skivington – “…it was a good day, the boys worked really hard.” 💪
Hear what the Head Coach had to say post-match 👇
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) August 15, 2020
Earlier this month, Australian rugby star Israel Folau also opted against taking a knee at the Super League opener.
Before the match between Catalans Dragons and St Helens at Headingley, both teams officials and players took a knee before kick-off in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
But Folau, who signed a one-year contract extension with Catalans last month, did not take part in the pre-match gesture and was the only player who remained standing.
The 31-year-old’s decision has been labelled as a “personal choice” by Dragons coach Steve McNamara.