With the Gallagher Premiership ready to end its five-month break this weekend, reigning champions Saracens have issued a statement on how they aim to raise awareness about racism following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement during the recent layoff.
George Floyd’s death in the United States in May after a police officer knelt on his neck led to protests taking place worldwide against police brutality and racism.
This was followed by Premier League and Championship football clubs displaying their solidarity in a number of ways, including players and officials taking a knee before kick-off of every match during the reconvened season in June and July.
Attention now turns to rugby this weekend with the Premiership returning to the field in London, Worcester, Exeter, Bath, Bristol and Northampton and with talisman Maro Itoje having recently fronted a BBC show on racism in rugby, Saracens have outlined their Black Lives Matter thoughts ahead of the 2019/20 season restart.
A club statement read: “Saracens is committed to tackling the issues of racial inequality, prejudice and underrepresentation within society and specifically within the rugby community.
"You say rugby is an inclusive sport, the challenge is for it to be inclusive for all, not just inclusive for the people who fit the bill"
– Stirring words from Maro Itoje on how rugby in England must broaden its horizons and reach into BAME communities https://t.co/KhjFiynYyJ
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 10, 2020
“We want to continue to celebrate our diverse and multicultural family whilst providing a platform to speak openly and honestly about what change we want to see. We do not want to be silent or stagnant on this matter.
“We abhor any form of discrimination and indeed through the Saracens Sport Foundation we have a rich history of tackling social injustice and inequality through the power of sport. But we know we can do more to ensure we are seeing greater representation on and off the field within our game.
“From the owner, the board, the senior management, the staff and players at Saracens we stand united. Black lives matter. We have a great chance to send a powerful message and educate people more on what this really means.
“No one disputes that all lives matter, but we must accept that racial discrimination still exists and we must work towards a position where all lives are considered of equal value in society. We must not ignore the past three months and we will not sit on the fence when we have an opportunity to change perceptions.
“Racism isn’t just easily identifiable prejudice. It can be unwitting, unconscious and for those who don’t come up against it, one might never know it’s there, but we must not be blind to it.
“We are a family who support each other and respect each other’s beliefs. Saracens will stand firmly against racism and social injustice and will visually demonstrate this commitment ahead of our first match against Bristol Bears in the restarted 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership campaign.
“However, we will judge our success not on the wearing of a t-shirt but on the longer term impact we have as a club on tackling this societal issue.”
'As a black player, you get pigeon-holed. You’re either an athlete and you’ll get stuck on the wing or he’s big, let’s stick him in the second row' @Harlequins wing @natenate174 talks about gaining coaches' trust, his ACL, BLM & more, with @heagneyl ???https://t.co/qxaJxTQeXM
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 2, 2020
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