Guinness PRO14 officials will be hoping their weekend restart of the delayed 2019/20 campaign won’t be subjected to the same level of scrutiny that happened in last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership regarding its approach to racism.
Much of the commentary following the rugby restart in England focused on which players decided not to take a knee, with emphasis especially on the eight South Africans at Sale who opted to stand in the pre-match moment prior to their game at Harlequins.
That led to a reaction at ministerial level in South African, politicians there claiming they would be canvassing South Africa Rugby for a reaction to what had unfolded in England.
The decision not to take a knee certainly wasn’t confined to the Sale’s South African contingent, with England’s Billy Vunipola candidly explaining on Wednesday why he opted not to take a knee prior to Saracens’ outing at Bristol.
“That movement [Black Lives Matter] wasn’t aligned with what I believe in. They were burning churches and Bibles. I can’t support that,” he said in reference to what had taken place in the USA over the summer.
Billy Vunipola on why he didn't take a knee last weekend ? https://t.co/nAwLCEYgJ8
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 19, 2020
Premiership Rugby had left it up to its clubs to decide what they were going to do last weekend to raise awareness about its new Rugby Against Racism campaign. Now with rugby about to restart in the PRO14 this weekend with matches scheduled in Italy, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, tournament organisers have issued a statement as to what the approach will be pre-game.
“This weekend ahead of the Guinness PRO14 restart games two occurrences will precede the kick-off,” read a statement on Friday morning ahead of this evening’s opening encounter, the Italian derby featuring Benetton and Zebre.
“At each game, a moment’s silence will be observed to mark the loss of life suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic and to honour those who have worked on the frontline to protect us.
“After this, a ‘Unity Moment’ will be observed to demonstrate that rugby stands united against racism and to emphasise the game’s core values of solidarity and respect. Players will stand in a circular formation and during this time they are free to express themselves in a manner they deem appropriate.
“This Unity Moment will underline the message of Rugby Against Racism across the territories that encompass the Guinness PRO14.”
Debate about the way Sale lined-up last Friday is still raging https://t.co/hRWDFSVXno
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 20, 2020
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