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Scottish Rugby defends players not taking knee

Only four of Scotland’s players opted to take a knee ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations victory over England at Twickenham; SRU statement: “Our players are free to demonstrate their support for this important issue in the way they see fit”

Last Updated: 08/02/21 10:53am

Only four of Scotland's players opted to take a knee before their Six Nations match against England at Twickenham on Saturday

Only four of Scotland’s players opted to take a knee before their Six Nations match against England at Twickenham on Saturday

The Scottish Rugby Union says it stands behind the fight against racism after only four players chose to take a knee ahead of Saturday’s win over England at Twickenham.

Gregor Townsend’s team recorded their first away win over England since 1983 but have faced a backlash after the majority of the matchday squad opted not to join in with the gesture supporting the Rugby Against Racism campaign before kick-off in London.

Murrayfield chiefs have now reiterated their backing for equality – but say it remains down to individual players to decide how they show that support in future.

The SRU said in a statement: “Scottish Rugby fully supports rugby’s ongoing work to end discrimination and racism in our sport.

“This commitment has been expressed with a moment of reflection before every international match since the summer of 2020 and our players are free to demonstrate their support for this important issue in the way they see fit.”

While it has become commonplace for footballers to take the knee before all domestic and international fixtures, there has been no such uniform approach within rugby.

Ahead of their matches in the Autumn Nations Cup, the Scotland players joined in a “moment of reflection” aimed at supporting not only the fight against racism but also offering thanks to the NHS and frontline workers for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

12 England players took a knee ahead of their Six Nations match against Scotland

12 England players took a knee ahead of their Six Nations match against Scotland

As well as the four Scotland players – Ali Price, Jonny Gray, Chris Harris and Cameron Redpath – 12 members of the England squad also kneeled before the Dark Blues’ 11-6 win.

But that was not repeated at this weekend’s other two Guinness Six Nations fixtures – Italy vs France and Wales vs Ireland – where players from all four teams remained standing.

The SRU is planning to hold another “moment of reflection” when Scotland host Wales next Saturday, but Townsend said it has been left “100 per cent” to his players to decide if they will make any further gesture.

Asked if the team discussed the anti-racism gesture before the match, Townsend told BBC Radio Scotland: “No. We had been told there was a few things before the game, rightly commemorating those who have died during the pandemic.

“There was a few former England international players that had died over the past few weeks so that was happening before the game.

“There was a minutes applause for Sir Captain Tom as well, and obviously the recognition about stamping out racism in sport which has taken place in games previously in the season.

“That was part of it. We obviously stand against any racism or discrimination in sport.”

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