More than just about 'taking a knee' for Stormers
SPOTLIGHT: Live rugby is back on the screens and South African fans are buzzing.
Most rugby supporters are happy to see their respective teams in action since the COVID-19-enforced lockdown in March 2020.
South Africa’s four main Super Rugby franchises will take to the field on Saturday, September 26.
The Sharks and Bulls will be kicking off proceedings, before the Lions and Stormers completing the day’s action.
Even though team announcements and the return of Springboks like Siya Kolisi, Herschel Jantjies and Bongi Mbonambi from injury have been getting rugby fans excited, what seems to have stolen the headlines are questions around SA Rugby’s collective plans to show their support for the drive against racism and inequalities in South Africa.
Globally ‘taking a knee’ has become a symbol of demonstrating support for the Black Lives Matter movement, with athletes predominantly in the United States dropping to their knees.
The pre-match demonstration has received loads of praise, while the refusal to partake in the act has been met with loads criticism – as was evident in the English Premiership, when a number of South Africans opted not to drop their knee.
The South Africans wore ‘Against Racism’ T-Shirts.
However, their respective decisions even had South Africa minister of sport Nkosinathi Mthethwa asking for an ‘explanation’.
Race and equality have always been a very heated debate in South Africa, given the country’s history and the current social-economic dilemma.
And with SA Rugby not wanting to have the same fallout with players being targeted, rugby365com reported that SA Rugby Chief Executive Officer Jurie Roux revealed their collective plans – including the broadcasting of a “credo” in the stadium and on the television transmission of the matchday activities.
When asked whether the Stormers will drop the knee or not, captain Kolisi said that however players decide to show their support, it should be respected and not judged.
The World Cup-winning captain admitted that in a diverse country and team there is a need for continuous education on the issue.
“It has been the biggest conversation that’s been happening around the world,” Kolisi told reporters.
“Here in South Africa, we have our own things that we are going through – a lot of social issues. So we have tried to narrow it down to what’s happening in our country.
“We pride ourselves in our diversity at the Stormers.
“One thing that we all know, we are all different races and from different backgrounds and we decided that we don’t have enough education around what’s going on.
He added: “Some might have different experiences.
“Dobbo [coach John Dobson] offered to get us somebody to come in and speak to us, to get us talking and having the conversations on what’s going on in our environment and South Africa.
“That’s what we did as a team.
“We want to have more conversations around this, just internally,”
Kolisi also emphasised the fight against racism goes beyond #SuperFanSaturday.
“Regarding this game, we know that one session is not enough.
“We decided as a team that we want this to be a continuous thing until we get the perfect solution on how we can all be united as a team and how that can spread through the system.
“There are so many things people can do to show their support for this and as long as we are getting the education and growing each week, what somebody does is up to them.
“We are not going to judge each other.
“It is all about getting the conversation started.
“We have to respect the decisions that everybody makes and their answer for it.
“It is tough that we have only had one session for Saturday’s game. It was hard for us to say what we are going to do. But one thing we want is continuous education, so we can all get to a place where we are comfortable in this environment,”