Wallabies make ‘unanimous’ call on kneeling

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has confirmed the national men’s rugby side will not take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before their Bledisloe Cup match against the All Blacks next weekend.

Sporting teams and organisations around the world have opted to show support for the BLM movement since the death of George Floyd by taking a knee.

On Thursday, Wallabies fullback Dane Haylett-Petty revealed the Australian squad were considering a silent protest during the national anthem before their Test match against New Zealand in Sydney on Sunday, October 31.

The Wallabies would become the first Australian national side to take a knee during a national anthem if they went ahead with the silent protest.

“I think it’s great,” Haylett-Petty said.

“I think sport has an amazing opportunity to have a say and join conversations and a lot of sports have done that and it would be a great thing for us to do.”

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But on Friday, Rennie told reporters the Australian squad came to a “unanimous decision” not to perform the silent protest.

“We met with the leaders and then the leaders met with the rest of the team and it’s a unanimous decision,’ Rennie said.

“The key thing is, this is about honouring our Indigenous people and we want the focus to be on that.

“Everyone’s got their own opinions around the other situation, but we want the focus to be on reflecting on our history and our past.

“All I’ve said is that our focus is around the First Nations People and the Indigenous jersey. We’re not looking to make a political statement.”

Dave Rennie of the Wallabies.Source:Getty Images

The Wallabies will wear a green and white Indigenous jersey this weekend — it will be only the fourth time they have donned a First Nations jersey in a Test match.

Rennie and the playing group hope to see an Indigenous element added to their traditional golden kit as well, rather than just for special occasions.
“We’ve certainly talked about the Indigenous jersey and as a group we’d like to see that represented every week in our Test jersey, not just as a one-off,” Rennie added.

“I think this is the first step in regard to embracing that part of our history.

“What we’re trying to highlight is First Nations is part of our DNA. It needs to be reflected in what we do every day, not just one or two times a year. We think having that reflected on our Test jersey every week is really important.”

Rugby Australia interim CEO Rob Clarke said in a statement: “Rugby Australia and the Wallabies condemn any form of racism or discrimination and also acknowledge that we are still on the path to reconciliation.

“The First Nations jersey is a strong statement in itself. It has a truly global impact in raising awareness and in recognising the issues facing First Nations people. Rugby Australia and the Wallabies are incredibly proud to wear it, what it means and who it represents.

“I’m really pleased the players and management have come together to speak about this, as they would with other important social issues. It was measured, appropriate and mature and I congratulate the team as they explore more opportunities to recognise issues facing First Nations people and all Australians.”

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.Source:Getty Images

On Thursday, former Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones urged the Australian men’s rugby team not to take a knee, warning not to bring politics into sport.

Farr-Jones also claimed the majority of Australians would agree “all lives matter” and does not believe the country has a problem with racism.

“To take the risk of basically splitting the support the Wallabies are starting to earn through their gutsy performances in Wellington and Auckland — just don’t do it guys, it’s too risky,” Farr-Jones said on 2GB radio.

“You run the risk that a few (viewers) would just turn off. They don’t want to see politics in national sport. That’s a real risk.

“I think it could be divisive.

“I don’t think here in Australia that we have a major issue in relation to discrimination of coloured people.

“Here in Australia I think if you surveyed your listeners, I think 99 per cent would agree that all lives matter. We don’t have that issue. Let’s not make it a political issue in a sporting event.”

Former Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones.Source:News Corp Australia

Farr-Jones added while it’s ultimately up to the players if they want to take a knee, they should get the approval of the Rugby Australia board before following through with any protest.

“They can’t just go and do this and risk the loss of all the support,” Farr-Jones said.

“Over the decades we cherish the fact we’ve had some amazing Indigenous people in our teams, some amazing Polynesians and Fijian players.

“I think of the Ellas and how blessed I was to play alongside Mark in my early Tests … we’ve never had an issue. We all come together under that one jersey brilliantly.”

New Zealand currently holds a 1-0 lead in the four-match series, and the Wallabies will need to claim consecutive victories to secure the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.

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