24 Aug 2020

South Africa’s Minister for Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, has come under fire from Sale Sharks Director of Rugby, Steve Diamond.

That's after the latter urged Mthethwa to focus on ‘his own job’.

Mthethwa has received loads of backlash after it was revealed that he had approached SA Rugby for ‘clarity’ over the failure of a host of players who failed to ‘take a knee’ in support of the #BLM movement before Premiership matches in England.

Players wore T-shirts supporting the fight against racism under the campaign ‘Rugby Against Racism’.

However, 11 Sale Sharks players chose to remain standing – with eight being South Africans, namely Coenie Oosthuizen, Akker van der Merwe, Jean-Luc du Preez, Lood de Jager, captain Jono Ross, Dan du Preez, Faf de Klerk and Rob du Preez.

The eight were joined by England centre Manu Tuilagi, Welsh prop WillGriff John and Scotland wing Byron McGuignon.

Sale Sharks were back in action on Friday against log-leader Exter Chiefs.

And this time England’s Tuilagi took a knee, while all eight South Africans in the starting line-up opted to stand.

Speaking after the 32-22 defeat, Diamond defended his players’ decision.

“If the South African sports minister is anything like the UK sports minister, he should concentrate on his own job and do what’s right there and not get involved in other areas," he said. “Sport across the world has shown its faith and commitment to Blacks Live Matter, whether it’s by wearing a T-shirt of whether it’s taking a knee. Taking a knee is everybody’s choice and I don’t think the politicians should get involved, they normally make a mess when they do, so just leave it to us and the lads and let them have their own opinion.”

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