Otago Daily Times

Aus­tralia rules out tak­ing knee for BLM

- Sports · Rugby · Australia · Sydney · Australia national rugby union team · Championship · New Zealand · New Zealand national rugby union team · Australian Rugby Union · Rennie

SYD­NEY: The Wal­la­bies will not take a knee in sup­port of the Black Lives Mat­ter cam­paign ahead of next week’s Rugby Cham­pi­onship game against New Zealand, as they will be fo­cused on hon­our­ing Aus­tralia’s in­dige­nous peo­ple, coach Dave Ren­nie said yes­ter­day.

Aus­tralia will wear a new ‘‘First Na­tion’’ jer­sey for the game on Oc­to­ber 31 but while full­back Dane Haylett­Petty had sug­gested they might also join other sports in the protest against racial in­jus­tice, Ren­nie said they had voted against the idea.

‘‘We won’t,’’ Ren­nie said when asked if they would take a knee.

‘‘The key thing is that this is about hon­our­ing our in­dige­nous peo­ple and we want the fo­cus to be on that.

‘‘Ev­ery­one has got their own opin­ions around the other sit­u­a­tion but we want the fo­cus to be around re­flect­ing on our his­tory and our past.

‘‘Our fo­cus is around the First Na­tions peo­ple and the in­dige­nous jer­sey; we’re not look­ing to make a po­lit­i­cal state­ment.’’

Haylett­Petty’s com­ments pro­voked plenty of de­bate, 1991 World Cup­win­ning cap­tain Nick Farr­Jones calling the idea of join­ing the protest ‘‘di­vi­sive’’.

Gary Ella, who with his broth­ers Mark and Glen carved a path for in­dige­nous Aus­tralians in rugby union, told The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald on Thurs­day Farr­Jones’ com­ments were ‘‘stupid talk’’.

Ren­nie said the coaches had dis­cussed the is­sue on Thurs­day with the team’s lead­er­ship group when they as­sem­bled to pre­pare for the All Blacks test.

The group then went to the play­ers, who were ‘‘unan­i­mous’’ in de­cid­ing not to take a knee.

Rugby Aus­tralia in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive Rob Clarke said the or­gan­i­sa­tion and the team con­demned any form of racism or dis­crim­i­na­tion while ac­knowl­edg­ing they were ‘‘still on the path to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion’’.

‘‘The First Na­tions jer­sey is a strong state­ment in it­self.’’ — Reuters

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