Because the loss of life of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter has dominated the cultural house and even overseas sports activities groups couldn’t escape the insanity of the “anti-racist” motion. 

Finally Saturday’s Six Nations match, the whole Eire rugby workforce and 21 gamers from the England and Scotland groups refused to kneel for the Rugby Towards Racism marketing campaign earlier than kickoff. 

Among the many standing athletes was English participant Billy Vunipola, who famously refused to take a knee in November when the workforce beat Georgia 40-0 within the Autumn Nations Cup. In an interview with The Good, The Dangerous And The Rugby Podcast, Vunipola, who’s of Tongan descent, defined on the time that he wouldn’t kneel as a result of as a Christian he doesn’t agree with the values of Black Lives Matter and the tradition they assist. “What I noticed by way of that motion was not aligned with what I imagine in,” he mentioned. “They had been burning churches and Bibles. I can not assist that. Though I’m an individual of color, I am nonetheless extra an individual of, I assume, Jesus.”

In November, Vunipola was joined by simply two fellow teammates, Ben Earl and Henry Slade. Whereas Slade selected to kneel on Saturday, Vunipola and Earl had been joined by 4 extra of their teammates together with greater than half of the Scottish workforce and all the Irish workforce. 

Not like many American players, Vunipola and others who refused to kneel have obtained loads of institutional backing. Scotland’s coach, Gregor Townsend, claims he “100%” helps his gamers’ resolution to face as a substitute of kneel. Equally the Rugby Soccer Union made an announcement in November defending its gamers selection:

“England’s males’s and girls’s gamers and match officers are given the selection on how and in the event that they want to make gestures to assist elevate consciousness for variety and inclusion earlier than the beginning of every sport. ‘The RFU helps any gamers’ resolution and equally believes the plans off the England stage are as vital in driving needed enchancment and alter throughout all areas of our sport.”

These European athletes’ option to respectfully stand in opposition to racism somewhat than kneel and assist Black Lives Matter is a breath of recent air in contrast with the local weather of American sports activities groups during the last 12 months. Within the wake of BLM riots and the aftermath of George Floyd’s loss of life, the few athletes who selected to face had been typically harshly criticized and accused of participating in racism. Sport by sport, season by season, from basketball to baseball and from soccer to football, the final six months have seen athletes at each stage take a kneel in assist of BLM and “anti-racism.”

Hopefully, the European Rugby gamers’ selection to face in solidarity as a substitute of kneel to BLM will rub off on American gamers and provides them the braveness to take a stand as a substitute of a knee.