Experts defend Bothma BLM remarks

By Michael Uugwanga

LOCAL rugby experts are in support of former national team rugby captain Renaldo Bothman’s recent comment on Black Lives Matters (BLM), following Bothma’s defence of eight South African rugby players who refused to kneel in support of the BLM movement ahead of an English Premiership match between Harlequins and Sale Sharks on August 14.

As a result, the South African Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa has asked SA Rugby to make a pronouncement on the actions of eight players, namely Springbok World Cup winners Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager‚ twins Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez‚ their older brother Robert‚ Akker van der Merwe‚ Coenie Oosthuizen and club captain Jono Ross.

Although the players wore the ‘Rugby Against Racism’ T-shirts but their decision not to kneel has caused a massive uproar back in South Africa and in other parts of the world.

“We do not want to jump the gun on the specific matter of the South African players in England who didn’t kneel in support of the BLM movement but we did say we want to understand what’s happening‚ and what is the position of SA Rugby in this whole thing‚” said Mthethwa in an interview with various media outlets in South Africa last week.

This prompted Bothma who missed the 2019 Rugby World Cup as captain due to injury to go on his Facebook page in solidarity with the eight in what he calls the right move made by the players.

Bothma is also a former player for Harlequins.   

“I don’t care how many threats I receive! I will stand up for every single rugby player that has been questioned and criticised about not taking a knee! There is not one person in this world that can force someone to take a knee for something or someone else than God! Every single player had a BLM T-shirt on this weekend to support the campaign. So stop making this a racial issue! It’s absolutely bull. Get over yourself and all you pathetic ministers, sort out your corrupted ANC (African National Congress) before questioning any sport athlete,” read the message on his Facebook page.

Former Wanderers Rugby Club coach, Vince Dreyer said he does not see anything wrong with Bothma’s remarks adding that BLM is being politicised by certain leaders.

“We are all fighting racism and it does not mean that if players do not kneel down they are racists. South Africa have a black captain in Siya Kolisi who led them to World Cup glory and these very same players have big respect for Kolisi.There are other ways to fight racism,” said Dreyer.

Corné Powell, who played 27 times for Namibia said that it is wrong for players to be forced to do something that is not part of their beliefs, upbringing or cultural background.

“Players need to be respected as they come from different backgrounds. I have experienced this during my playing days when certain players who are Christians pray before the match but those from different religious were excused based on their religions. All players are fighting racism in sport and in society. Even if I was a coach I will not feel comfortable to force my players to kneel down,” said Powell.