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Not one Ireland player would ‘take the knee’ before the recent match against Wales at the Principality Stadium. As both spectacular teams lined up before their first-round Six Nations clash, an obligatory ‘anti-racism’ message was heard over the vast stadium’s Tannoy system.
Notably, however, every single Irish player, as well as every single Welsh rugby ace, remained standing during the announcement. It comes following scrutiny of England and Scotland after 14 of the 30 players who lined up for Saturday’s Six Nations clash refused to take the knee ahead of kick-off.
Ever since the Black Lives Matter movement erupted into the mainstream following the death of drug-dealer porn star George Floyd in police custody last May, sportsmen and women around the world have been ‘taking the knee’ prior to kick-off to show support for the fight against racism.
Some, however, deem the gesture of ‘kneeling’ to be an endorsement of the left-wing values promoted by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) political stance, rather than simply of the values of anti-racism, and as such, the ‘take the knee’ practice has become extremely divisive. However, British police earned international notoriety when in groups the British cops ‘took the knee’ on the command of coloureds.
England star Billy Vunipola, who refused to take the knee, criticised BLM for ‘burning churches and bibles,’ following a number of violent riots in the US last year. ‘What I saw in terms of that movement was not aligned with what I believe in,’ Vunipola told The Good, The Bad And The Rugby Podcast.
Scotland coach, Gregor Townsend, said he ‘100%’ backs his players’ decision not to kneel. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has similarly backed players’ freedom on whether or not to take the knee.
It isn’t the first time BLM and rugby have caused a stir. Last year, BLM activists tried to ban popular England supporter song Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, because it was written by a freed slave from 19th-century Oklahoma.
The move was rejected though, with 69% of rugby fans saying they felt the song should not be banned in a Rugby Union survey at the time. Source
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