Welsh and Irish rugby players observed a moment of silence in remembrance of Captain Tom Moore and all those who have passed away as a result of the pandemic before this afternoon’s Six Nation’s clash.
As the silence was about to commence the BBC flashed up a banner to inform viewers it was being awkwardly devoted to banishing racism as well.
The banner stated: “Racism is not acceptable in rugby, in sport, or the world we live in”. None of the players kneeled.
They then belted out the anthems with the usual pride and passion before getting stuck into a gruelling match, which Wales came from behind to win, 21-16.
The scene contrasted starkly with yesterday’s curtain-raiser at Twickenham between England and Scotland. The pre-match rituals sparked outrage over social media after some England players refused to perform the Black Lives Matter protest gesture of dropping one knee to the floor. Almost all members of the Scotland squad stood resolutely upright before going on to secure a historic win, their first on English soil since 1983.
“I did wonder at the #TakeTheKnee stance of some of the players today #SixNationsRugby I don’t know what they had been advised to do @EnglandRugby@Scotlandteam I suspect this will kick off a storm when compared to footballers,” tweeted BBC Radio Scotland host John Beattie.
Beattie was joined by Sky’s Anthony Joseph who tweeted: “#AsOne is the message from Scottish Rugby. But the players don’t seem to be “as one” in their stance against racism. It’s less about ‘they should kneel’ and more about ‘why wouldn’t they?’ What do they feel so strongly about to not be part of an anti-racism gesture?”
Journalist Nick Metcalfe tweeted: “A number of England and Scotland players didn’t take the knee before the Six Nations game at Twickenham. Not the best of looks that.”
But the social justice brigade failed to land any punches with the organisers of today’s match in Cardiff clearly panicked into merging the tribute to lost friends and family with a no to racism reflection.
Scotland’s heroic win served to muffle the cries on Twitter, helped no doubt by rugby’s newborn legacy for standing up against BLM virtue signalling.
One of England’s star forward’s, Billy Vunipola first refused to kneel playing for his club Saracens in August. He later explained: “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 colour, I’m still more a person of, I guess, Jesus.”
Commenting on the actions – or rather lack of them – of Vunipola and several other teammates before a match against Georgia in November, England’s Rugby Football Union said: “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.”
English football, however, continues to apply overwhelming pressure on players to take the knee. Some have spoken out though. Last month, Nottingham Forest star, Lyle Taylor criticised the BLM movement while pledging his support for ending racism.
“My support for what it is that we’re trying to achieve is absolute, but I do not support Black Lives Matter as an institution or organisation,” Taylor said.
“I would request anyone looks into Black Lives Matter to look into what that organisation does and what they stand for because it’s scandalous that the world and the world’s media has got behind Black Lives Matter.”