SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux talks to the media after France was announced as the host nation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup at Royal Garden Hotel in London on 15 November 2017 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
- When rugby resumes in South Africa at Loftus on Saturday, SA Rugby will take a stand against racism and discrimination.
- There will be firm attention, however, on the organisation’s stance on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and any pre-match statements.
- Springboks Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager made headlines while on duty for Sale Sharks last month when they opted against taking the knee in support of BLM.
SA Rugby has communicated to its unions a proposal around how it will take a stand against racism and discrimination when Super Fan Saturday takes place at Loftus this weekend.
On Saturday, the Sharks will take on the Bulls at 16:25 before the Lions play the Stormers at 18:55 in what will be the first live professional rugby matches in South Africa since Super Rugby was suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic towards the end of March.
Since the death of American George Floyd on May 25, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has gained traction all over the world and, closer to home, it has been a major talking point in South African cricket, in particular.
Former players and coaches have come forward with their own experiences of racism and exclusion in South African cricket and, on July 18 when Cricket South Africa hosted the Solidarity Cup at Centurion, every player and member of the coaching staff from all three teams took a knee in solidarity for BLM before the first ball was bowled.
In the English Premier League, too, players have taken a knee together before kickoff – a stance that has extended into the start of the 2020/21 season.
Taking the knee has become the universal symbol of showing support for BLM, but a group of South African rugby players – including Springbok World Cup winners Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager – made headlines last month by opting not to take a knee when playing for the Sale Sharks.
The South Africans playing abroad who ‘stood’ while on European duty that weekend wore T-shirts with the words ‘Rugby Against Racism’ printed on them, but that they didn’t take a knee was enough to draw action out of South African sports minister Nathi Mthethwa, who wanted answers from SA Rugby.
SuperSport will broadcast Super Fan Saturday this weekend, and SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has sent a proposal to the participating franchises – which Sport24 has seen – outlining the plans for the moments leading up to kickoff.
Roux proposes that “the players make their way onto 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.”
As the players take to the field, SuperSport would broadcast a “credo” that will make SA Rugby’s stance on fighting racism clear.
The proposal would apply before the first match on Saturday and then again at the subsequent Springbok Showdown, scheduled for Newlands on October 3, that will see two ‘Bok’ teams take each other on in an effective trial match.
A concern of Roux’s is how players might be “targeted” or “vilified” on social media by different sections of the public, regardless of the stance they choose to take.
Both at the stadium and on the SuperSport broadcast, the proposed diversity and inclusion credo would then highlight SA Rugby’s united stance against racism and inequality in South Africa.
The credo further acknowledges the need for equal opportunity and a commitment to “strive harder to eliminate discrimination and inequality amongst administrators, players and officials”, while it adds that “we must work harder to create a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported.”
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