EletiofeSale teammates received death threats for not taking knee,...

Sale teammates received death threats for not taking knee, says Marland Yarde

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  • England wing says social media messages ‘totally unacceptable’
  • Yarde has taken knee twice but some teammates have declined

Marland Yarde has said some of his Sale teammates have received death threats online after not taking a knee before games.






Marland Yarde has said some of his Sale teammates have received death threats online after not taking a knee before games.
Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

The England wing Marland Yarde has said some of his Sale teammates have received death threats after choosing not to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter. Yarde posted on Twitter condemning the treatment of his fellow players, as part of a powerful statement.

“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 said.

“I have to also stand against death threats against my teammates which is totally unacceptable. This behaviour will not make the world a better place.”

Yarde has taken a knee before both of Sale’s matches since the restart, along with three teammates against Harlequins and four against Exeter last Friday. On both occasions, eight South African players in the Sale squad elected to remain standing. Nathi Mthethwa, the country’s sports minister, has called on the South African Rugby Union to intervene, and a number of the players have come in for fierce criticism on social media.

Unlike Premier League footballers who have taken a knee in unison before matches, Premiership rugby players have been divided on how best to show their support for anti-racism. Some clubs, such as Harlequins, have taken a knee together while others have all stood and some, like Sale, have been split. Before both of their matches, all Sharks players have worn T-shirts bearing the message “Rugby Against Racism”.

On the eve of the season, the Rugby Players’ Association insisted that each player’s individual right to make a choice must be respected and while the Sale director of rugby, Steve Diamond, last week dismissed the South African sports minister’s comments as “a storm in a teacup”, Yarde’s statement – understood to be in reference to comments on social media – demonstrates it is anything but.

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The RPA said on Monday it was aware of the situation but Premiership Rugby, Sale and the RFU did not comment. While a number of the Premiership players electing not to kneel are South African, the England No 8 Billy Vunipola has also chosen to stand before both of Saracens’ matches since the restart.

Last week, Vunipola explained his decision by saying that the Black Lives Matter movement was at odds with his religious beliefs, claiming, “They were burning churches and Bibles. I can’t support that. Even though I am a person of colour, I’m still more a person of, I guess, Jesus.” There is little evidence to support the claim the movement has burned any churches.

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