Otago Daily Times

Australia rules out taking knee for BLM

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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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