UPDATE: The Premiership South African players' refusal to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter before the opening round of matches, could have tremendous consequences in South Africa.
"The South African players’ refusal to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter before the Sale Sharks v Harlequins match last Friday, could have tremendous consequences in South Africa.
According to various media reports, South Africa’s Minister for Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has requested an investigation into the reasons behind the Saffas failing to kneel during the pre-match gesture.
Prior to the Premiership return, tournament organisers allowed the 12 clubs and players the freedom to determine how they will support the anti-Racism campaign under the banner ‘Rugby Against Racism’.
All the players wore ‘Rugby Against Racism’ T-shirts to the #BLM movement.
There were eleven Sale Sharks players, who chose to remain standing – with eight being South Africans, namely Coenie Oosthuizen, Akker van der Merwe, Jean-Luc du Preez, Lood de Jager, captain Jono Ross, Dan du Preez, Faf de Klerk and Rob du Preez.
The eight were joined by England centre Manu Tuilagi, Welsh prop WillGriff John and Scotland wing Byron McGuignon (who were both born in Namibia).
South Africans Ruan Ackermann and Francois Venter also remained standing during Gloucester and Worcester Warriors fixture on Saturday.
Addressing the matter, Mthethwa said: “We do not want to jump the gun on the specific matter of the South African players in England who didn’t kneel in support of the BLM movement but we did say we want to understand what’s happening‚ and what is the position of SA Rugby in this whole thing.
“The first thing we noted is that they were wearing the t-shirts which support the BLM movement but they did not kneel.”
He added: “Upon seeing this‚ I interacted with SA Rugby through its president [Mark Alexander] and I asked him to explain what’s happening so that we are on the same wavelength.
“You must remember we were together at the World Cup in Japan as a country with some of the players and one thing which cannot be tolerated is when somebody is displaying racist behaviour and showing racist attitude.
“The president of SA Rugby did say that they are going to be having their own meeting and they will make their views known.”
Meanwhile, in England, Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond has described the controversy over his South African players’ refusal to take a knee prior to last Friday’s Premiership restart match versus Harlequins as a “storm in a teacup”.
“Four of our players took the knee and that is their entitlement and the rest didn’t,” he said. “It will be a storm in a teacup and we all wore the Rugby Against Racism t-shirts which we thought was important. I don’t think it is too much to worry about if I am honest.” "
I would guess it is down to religious reasons.
If it becomes compulsory then it loses all meaning and is no more than an act of subjection.
Whilst there may be a lot of angry talk, I struggle to see any long term consequences as it is difficult to prove that not kneeling is racist in and of itself.
I note that it wasn't just the South Africans that didn;t take the knee