The Wallabies could become the first Aussie national team to take a knee during the national anthem in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Senior Wallaby Dane Haylett-Petty revealed the squad will consider the silent protest statement before the third Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks on October 31 at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, when they will wear their new Indigenous-designed jersey.
While several sporting clubs and organisations around the world have taken a knee before games or openly supported BLM – including the NBA, European soccer and English Super League – the Wallabies would be the only Australian side to do so.
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Wallabies players show off their new Indigenous-designed jerseys.Source:AFP
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“It’s great that sport has an amazing opportunity to have a say and join conversations, a lot of sports have done that and it would be a great thing for us to do,” Haylett-Petty said.
“I obviously can’t speak for everyone but definitely I think it’d be a great show of support.
“I think that’s probably a discussion to have as a group, and we’d definitely consider it.”
Under new coach Dave Rennie, a Kiwi of Cook Islands heritage, the Wallabies have embraced learning about different cultures and learned how to sing Fijian and Tongan songs during camp before the Bledisloe opener a fortnight ago.
“He‘s obviously big on bringing the different cultures together, you’ve probably seen some of the songs we’ve been singing, learning about different cultures,” Haylett-Petty said.
“We‘ve got a very diverse group and we see that as a big strength of ours. And this only adds to it as well, being able to represent all Australians, especially First Nations people, by wearing this jersey.”
Michael Hooper and the Wallabies could take the knee before facing the All Blacks.Source:Getty Images
While the Wallabies will don the new first nations strip for the first time in Sydney, no player of Indigenous heritage has been picked in the squad, an alarming concern for how rugby is developing talent from within those communities.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan said: “I think it shows that we’ve got to open more player pathways for indigenous rugby players, but what it also says is that we’re very committed to an inclusive culture.
“We’re very proud of our Aboriginal and Indigenous heritage, and we’re going to promote it proudly.”
Indigenous Wallabies legend Gary Ella said league took the early advantage over union to lure talent because they were paying players from the beginning – whereas rugby only turned professional in 1996.
“In the beginning, league was really dominant, and if you have a look at the states outside of NSW and Queensland, AFL had a real strong base for a very long time,” Ella said.
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“We’re gradually introducing the game to more Aboriginal communities around Australia (with the) Big Time (development program) getting players to be associated with sevens teams, but it’s also now we’re having a lot more players playing club rugby.
New coach Dave Rennie has Cook Islands heritage.Source:AFP
“We’ve had good success recently and having a lot more people going into Super, and there are now Aboriginal communities seeing that opportunity where they can play professional. And they’re looking for that opportunity.
“I think that the league has always been professional and so it had an early footing, so people could make a living playing that particular sport. But now they’re saying that rugby’s offers just as much.”
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Originally published as‘Great thing for us to do’: Wallabies line up Aussie sport first
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