England will pay tribute before Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup game with Georgia to Matt Ratana, the 54-year-old East Grinstead rugby coach who was shot dead while on duty in London in September. The New Zealand-born Ratana was head coach at the grassroots club, having previously played for the London Irish amateurs.
An English Rugby statement outlined a variety of matchday moments that will be happening in conjunction with what will be the first Test match to take place behind closed doors at Twickenham since the outbreak of the pandemic.
It read: “There will be a moment’s applause to celebrate the lives of some of those in the rugby community who were lost to their families and the game during recent times.
“Their names and photographs will be shown on the big screen, while also celebrating key workers who have worked tirelessly during the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of this tribute, there will be a special mention for the life of Sergeant Matt Ratana, head coach of East Grinstead Rugby Club, who was tragically killed in the line of duty.
“We pay further tribute to Matt Ratana with two police officers – Sergeant Paul James and Sergeant Dan Humphreys – flanking England and New Zealand shirts with a Metropolitan Police uniform in the centre.”
"I shall never play at Twickenham again."
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) November 11, 2020
The statement also addressed what the England players will do regarding the Black Lives Matter and the Rugby Against Racism campaigns. “In recognition of improving diversity and inclusion in our sport and society, England’s players will show support for the positive messages of Black Lives Matter and Rugby Against Racism.
“This will take place after the anthem, during a moment of silence. Players will make an individual choice about taking the knee. Black Lives Matter and Rugby Against Racism branding will be within the stadium bowl. The RFU launched a documentary to educate fans on the origins of the Swing Low song in late October and made commitments to improving diversity and inclusion in rugby union.”
England last played at Twickenham in March when a capacity crowd was in attendance against Wales. Eddie Jones’ side went on to clinch the Six Nations title behind closed doors with a win last month over Italy and they will now play their first home game in eight months after their planned October match versus the Barbarians was scratched.
“While we are so pleased that England are playing again at Twickenham this Saturday, we wish it could have been with the great support of a home crowd including those from our community clubs up and down the country,” said RFU CEO Bill Sweeney.
“Although it isn’t possible for now, we have a number of special moments at the game to mark our return, including a way for our clubs to be there in spirit if not in person through a wall of club shirts; a representation of the lifeblood of our game and recognition for the continued tireless efforts of the rugby community during a hugely challenging year.
“We will also hold an applause to celebrate the lives of those in the rugby community who were lost during recent times and an acknowledgement of the incredible work of the NHS and key workers during the pandemic.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 12, 2020
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