Players free to decide whether to take knee, says Scottish Rugby

Andy Newport, PA

The Scottish Rugby Union insists it stands firmly behind the fight against racism despite only four players choosing to take the knee ahead of Saturday’s Calcutta Cup win at Twickenham.

Gregor Townsend’s team recorded their first away win over England since 1983 but have faced a backlash after the vast majority of the matchday squad opted not to join in with the gesture supporting the Black Lives Matter movement before kick-off in London.

Murrayfield chiefs have now reiterated their backing for equality – but say it remains down to individual players to decide how they show that support in future.

The SRU said in a statement: “Scottish Rugby fully supports rugby’s ongoing work to end discrimination and racism in our sport.

“This commitment has been expressed with a moment of reflection before every international match since the summer of 2020 and our players are free to demonstrate their support for this important issue in the way they see fit.”

While it has become commonplace for footballers to take the knee before all domestic and international fixtures, there has been no such uniform approach within rugby.

Ahead of their matches in the Autumn Nations Cup, the Scotland players joined in a “moment of reflection” aimed at supporting not only the fight against racism but also offering thanks to the NHS and frontline workers for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As well as the four Scotland players – Ali Price, Jonny Gray, Chris Harris and Cameron Redpath – 12 members of the England squad also kneeled before the Dark Blues’ 11-6 win.

But that was not repeated at this weekend’s other two Guinness Six Nations fixtures – Italy v France and Wales v Ireland – where players from all four teams remained standing.

The SRU is planning to hold another “moment of reflection” when Scotland host Wales next Saturday, but Townsend said it has been left “100 per cent” to his players to decide if they will make any further gesture.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: “We obviously stand against any racism and discrimination in our sport.”

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