Sale Boks get death threats
REACTION: Sale Sharks wing Marland Yarde has condemned death threats received by some of his teammates, after a row erupted over their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Sale’s South African players have been criticised by their country’s sports minister Nathi Mthethwa for opting not to take a knee before the English Premiership matches against Harlequins and Exeter.
Only four of Sale’s starting line-up took a knee at the Harlequins match on August 14, with five players doing so ahead of the clash with Exeter a week later.
Springbok World Cup winners Francois de Klerk and Lodewyk de Jager were among those who did not.
England international Yarde, who was among a handful of Sale players to take a knee on both occasions, branded the threats “totally unacceptable”.
“I stand 100 percent for the Black Lives Matter movement and wholeheartedly believe in the importance of highlighting the continuous battle that we face in society everyday and the need for a change,” the 28-year-old posted on Instagram and Twitter.
“I have to also stand against death threats against my teammates which is totally unacceptable. This behaviour will not make the world a better place. We are united we are a team.”
Premiership Rugby has allowed clubs and players decide their own ways of supporting the campaign.
Sale players did appear in ‘Rugby against Racism’ T-shirts before both games and, speaking after the Harlequins match, Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond said: “I think it’ll be a storm in a tea cup.
“We all wore the rugby against racism T-shirts, which we thought was important, but I don’t think it’s too much to worry about if I’m honest.”
England forward Billy Vunipola said he did not take the knee before Saracens’ game with Bristol last week because of his Christian faith.
Yarde was not the only player to speak out about the adverse reaction to players who declined to take a knee.
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I stand 100% for the Black Lives Matter movement and whole heartedly believe in the importance of highlighting the continuous battle that we face in society everyday and the need for a change. I have to also stand against death threats against my teammates which is totally unacceptable. This behaviour will not make the world a better place. We are united we are a team!! #blacklivesmatter #rugbyagainstracism 🦈 💙 ✊🏽
Northampton Saints and England lock Courtney Lawes says he believes those in the ‘middle’ need to find their voice in order to combat the increasingly divisive agendas being pushed on either side of the political aisle.
Saints’ low-key, unified response to Black Lives Matter on rugby’s restart weekend, was very much by design according to Lawes.
“Knowing politics and what it is at the minute, it’s become very divisive – and we [Northampton Saints] didn’t want that.
“I could see it coming a mile off. What kneeling and what Black Lives Matter represent is different to different people. Some people see it as one thing and other people see it as another. That’s not to say anyone is in the wrong or right, it’s maybe just how deep you’ve looked into the situation possibly?
“And whether you can differentiate between saying black lives matter, which of course they do, and the kind of organization, movement, which in my opinion, is something a bit different.
“It’s a very difficult subject for anybody nowadays. The reason I didn’t want it coming into rugby is because it doesn’t matter what side of the argument you stand on, you’re going to get backlash regardless because it just incredibly divisive, and that’s why we as a club went about it in a different direction.
“There’s a bigger picture going on in America and we’re just having some spillover in Britain, that’s what you’re seeing here. Basically a watered-down version of what is happening in America.
“It’s on people to go out and have a look at the organisation and what’s on the website, and have a look at what’s going on in America.
“I don’t want to go too far into it. People have to realise why some people are not on board with it and not just call them racist because they don’t want to get behind it.
“Go and talk to them. Ask them why it is they don’t get behind and if it is because they don’t think our lives matter, then maybe you’re right about them, but if they say it represents this, maybe have a think about it, go and have a look yourself.
“That’s the crux of it. We’re in an age where people in the middle are going to have to start speaking up, because the fringes are starting to take over, so people need to find their voice.
“I’m a mixed-race bloke who grew up in not a lot of money. I had good parents and they gave me good values. I was able to do well. I haven’t flippin’ completed life.
“I’m going to have to go back to work when I’m finished [with rugby]. I’ve picked rugby, and rugby’s not the best-paying sport on the world. It’s my choice so I stand by my decisions and I’ll be accountable for those decisions.
“It’s not like I’ve made it, made it, but I’ve done alright for myself. For me, most people can be successful. In terms of what success means to me, it is putting your children in a better place than you started. Giving them better opportunities than you had. My dad is still not worth that much in terms of wealth, but he’s very successful to me. He came at 12 years old with nothing at all, and he managed to give me a life and give me opportunities in life, to myself where I am today. That’s what we can all do.”
Source: AFP & RugbyPass