Player backlash on minister's #BLM stance
REACTION: It was always going to be hot-blooded and predictably the first reaction from within the players’ ranks was a charged response.
South Africa’s Minister of Sport, Nathi Mthethwa, caused a stir when it was 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, Akker 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 backlash to the minister was a passionate response from Renaldo Bothma, the former Harlequins flank.
Bothma’s response came after Sale director of Rugby Steve Diamond dismissed the fallout as a “storm in a teacup”.
The South Africa-born Namibia international Bothma offered a fiery response on social media.
“I will never take a knee to anyone else than GOD!” he said on his Twitter account.
“Where are all these ministers when we need to take a knee for farm murders in South Africa and take action against corruption? We all can decide what we want to do! NOBODY HAS ANY RIGHT TO FORCE SOMEONE TO GO ON THEIR KNEES!”
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The reaction of Bothma, who left Quins earlier this year, offered a brief insight into the complicated political backdrop and what is perhaps motivating the players to take this stance.
No players involved have responded yet and, as Diamond stressed, this is not something he deems too noteworthy.
“I have played with 90 percent of these players! And not one of them are racists,” Bothma said.
“So go clarify what you want. You have no right to force someone to go on their knees.”
Just to clarify! This is about my Christian believes and for the rugby guys that have been criticized and questioned for not kneeling!!! So for those out there making this a racial thing again, GET OVER YOURSELF!!! pic.twitter.com/urltlxLUKJ
— Renaldo Bothma (@renaldobothma) August 20, 2020
You do not have to take a knee; it is of course your choice. But it is risky to make the reason nobody took a knee for those….
This is very similar response to the “all lives matter” used to counter to BLM.
— Tony Shand (@Anchorian1) August 19, 2020