Entire Irish Rugby Team In International Tournament Refuses To ‘Take A Knee’
Irish Rugby team
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This week, the entire rugby squad of the team from Ireland unanimously refused to “take a knee” before they played against a Welsh team in the first round of the Six Nations tournament.

As an “anti-racism” message played over the public address system on Sunday before the kick-off of the match, the Irish team remained standing. Their action followed nearly half of the 30 players for Saturday’s England versus Scotland match also refusing to “take a knee.”

English star Billy Vunipola refused to kneel on Saturday. Last November, before England’s 40-0 victory against Georgia in the Autumn Nations Cup, Vunipola was one of three players refusing to take a knee. He told The Good, The Bad And The Rugby Podcast at the time: “A similar situation happened with the Black Lives Matter movement last week when we were asked if we want to take a knee or not. ‘What I saw in terms of that movement was not aligned with what I believe in. They were burning churches and Bibles. I can’t support that. Even though I am a person of color, I’m still more a person of, I guess, Jesus,” the Daily Mail reported.

The Rugby Football Union expressed support for the three players who refused to kneel in November, stating:

During the Autumn Nations Cup, Twickenham Stadium is featuring messages of support for Rugby Against Racism, Black Lives Matter and the NHS. England’s men’s and women’s players and match officials are given the choice on how and if they wish to make gestures to help raise awareness for diversity and inclusion before the start of each game. The RFU supports any players’ decision and equally believes the plans off the England stage are as important in driving necessary improvement and change across all areas of our game.

After last Saturday’s game, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend asserted that he “100%” backed the players who decided not to kneel. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backed the team after 19 of the 23 players refused to kneel, saying:

I think the SRU have given some explanation around that.I have no doubt that everybody in the Scottish rugby squad is absolutely firm in their opposition to and complete condemnation of racism in all its forms. And since you have given me the opportunity, let me take the opportunity with both hands to congratulate the Scottish rugby team on a spectacular and historic win at Twickenham on Saturday.

In August 2020, Israel Folau of the Catalan Dragons, who is Polynesian and a religious Christian, would not take a knee before the team’s game against St. Helensin Leeds, England. An empty stand at the stadium was draped in a huge banner supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign.

“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 Irish Post noted. “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.”

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