Sale wing Marland Yarde has revealed that some of his team-mates including a group of Springboks have been the target of death threats for their failure to ‘take the knee’ ahead of Premiership matters in support of Black Lives Matter.
South Africa’s Minister of Sports, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa demanded that SA Rugby take action against Sale and Gloucester’s South African players, who refused to kneel in solidarity with the BLM movement.
Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager were among those who refused to kneel. The Sharks team is loaded with South African talent including the three Du Preez brothers, Akker van der Merwe
In a message on his official social media channels, Yarde condemned those who had issued threats of violence to his team-mates.
“I stand 100% for the Black Lives Matter movement and wholeheartedly believe in the importance of highlighting the continuous battle that we face in society every day and the need for a change,” Yarde wrote.
“I have to also stand against death threats against my team-mates which is totally unacceptable.
“This behaviour will not make the world a better place. We are united, we are a team.”
Storm in a tea cup
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond believes that the current storm of criticism directed to those who refuse to make a gesture of solidarity with the BLM movement will pass soon enough. The Sharks boss would later issue a warning to Mthethwa to stay out of sporting affairs in the Premiership.
“I think it’ll be a storm in a tea cup,” Diamond told Sky Sports.
“We all wore the rugby against racism T-shirts, which we thought was important, but I don’t think it’s too much to worry about if I’m honest.”
England’s Billy Vunipola has also refused to take a knee citing his Christian faith as his reason for rejecting the gesture.
The Sharks team that faced Exeter included seven South African players most of whom would not ‘take the knee’ before the contest.
Gloucester’s South African coach Ruan Ackermann also stood before his side’s match against Worcester last weekend where Premiership clubs had all agreed on various ways to signal their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Rugby Players’ Association, the players’ union in England, said it was up to individual players to decide whether or not they would support any public gestures.