Peter FitzSimons blasts Wallabies’ national anthem protest decision
Peter FitzSimons blasts Wallabies’ national anthem protest decision

Fitzy blasts national anthem decision

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has confirmed the national men's rugby side will not take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before their Bledisloe Cup match against the All Blacks next weekend.

Sporting teams and organisations around the world have opted to show support for the BLM movement since the death of George Floyd by taking a knee.

On Thursday, Wallabies fullback Dane Haylett-Petty revealed the Australian squad were considering a silent protest during the national anthem before their Test match against New Zealand in Sydney on Sunday, October 31.

The Wallabies would become the first Australian national side to take a knee during a national anthem if they went ahead with the silent protest.

"I think it's great," Haylett-Petty said.

"I think sport has an amazing opportunity to have a say and join conversations and a lot of sports have done that and it would be a great thing for us to do."

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It led ex-Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones to speak out against the idea.

"To take the risk of basically splitting the support the Wallabies are starting to earn through their gutsy performances in Wellington and Auckland - just don't do it guys, it's too risky," he told 2GB radio. "You run the risk that a few (viewers) would just turn off. They don't want to see politics in national sport. That's a real risk. I think it could be divisive. I don't think here in Australia that we have a major issue in relation to discrimination of coloured people."

Which led to a response from former player Gary Ella.

The Wallabies will stand during the anthem. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
The Wallabies will stand during the anthem. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

"That's just stupid talk. That obviously shows that Nick doesn't have a full appreciation of the history of Aboriginal people in this country," Ella said. "If you're talking about reconciliation, we're talking about sharing and acknowledging the history that we've come past and are working towards a better future. Those type of comments are totally ignoring the history."

On Friday, Rennie told reporters the Australian squad came to a "unanimous decision" not to perform the silent protest.

"We met with the leaders and then the leaders met with the rest of the team and it's a unanimous decision,' Rennie said.

"The key thing is, this is about honouring our indigenous people and we want the focus to be on that.

"Everyone's got their own opinions around the other situation, but we want the focus to be on reflecting on our history and our past.

"All I've said is that our focus is around the First Nations People and the indigenous jersey. We're not looking to make a political statement."

That led to another ex-player, Peter FitzSimons to say the Wallabies had made a "big mistake".

Ex-Wallaby Peter FitzSimons has had his say.
Ex-Wallaby Peter FitzSimons has had his say.

 

"Saying you 'don't want to make a political statement' and so won't take a knee, is a political statement," he wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It will be seen by many as 'we are a bunch of privileged private school types, and we don't get it'."

The Wallabies will wear a green and white indigenous jersey this weekend - it will be only the fourth time they have donned a First Nations jersey in a Test match.

But that only adds to FitzSimons frustration.

"What is the point of having an indigenous round, and wearing an indigenous jersey, if you don't get to base level of showing respect for the indigenous struggle?" he added.

"Is all of the jersey stuff just a showbiz and marketing exercise, but when the rubber hits the road you are not actually there? This is a bad mistake, and you blokes should rethink it. Those who want to take a knee should take a knee."

Originally published as Fitzy blasts national anthem decision


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