The Springboks address issue of 'taking the knee' against the Lions
Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has responded to a query on whether or not his players will be taking the knee when they face the Lions in July for their keenly awaited three-match Test series.
There has been increased awareness in rugby surrounding the issue of equality since the practice of taking the knee was adopted by the likes of Maro Itoje and co last year following the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement after the death in America of George Floyd at the hands of the police.
There is no confirmation yet that taking the knee will be an official part of pre-match protocol on the Lions tour, but Erasmus has reported that his Springboks will be sticking by its own campaign which it introduced in 2019.
Rugby Against Discrimination and Racism (RADAR) was a collaboration with the South African Human Rights Commission and the Springboks players have worn t-shirts showing their support for anti-racism before matches. Branding at stadiums and messages over the PA systems have also helped to grow awareness, but taking the knee is a concept that hasn’t been embraced.
“In South Africa, we have long been dealing with stuff like that and we have our own programme called Radar since 2019 which is against racism, our own programme which we initiated long before the other debates started in the world so we are very comfortable (with that),” explained Erasmus.
"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 will still follow that specific programme, which was well documented well before all the other things started happening. We are happy with the route we are going and how our team is experiencing it, how we are aligned and where we are trying to get with it, so we will stick with our programme on that.”
The Springboks have famously been involved in two iconic racial equality images, the 1995 moment when Nelson Mandela presented skipper Francois Pienaar with the World Cup and then in 2019 when the first black captain of the Springboks, Siya Kolisi, lifted the trophy following the win over England in Yokohama.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 29, 2021
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