Scotland v Wales: Gregor Townsend on why players won’t take the knee

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GREGOR Townsend has revealed that both the Scottish and Welsh squads will stand during the pre-match ‘moment of reflection’ at Murrayfield tomorrow.

Scotland were widely criticised on social media when only four of their squad took a knee before last Saturday’s game against England last Saturday, while the Welsh and Irish squads both stood before their match the following day without incurring much adverse comment. Townsend insisted that his players had been surprised when members of the England team kneeled during a moment that was designed to commemorate Captain Sir Tom Moore, the victims of the pandemic and some former England internationals who had died recently, as well as marking the Six Nations Championship’s ‘Rugby Against Racism’ campaign.

“We know what’s happening this weekend,” the head coach said yesterday. “I believe both teams are going to stand and recognise rugby’s stand against racism and discrimination like we’ve done in all previous games. So unless that changes, that’s what we’ll do.”

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“It was such a surprise for us,” he added, referring to Twickenham. “There was no conscious decision to do anything differently to what we’d done in previous games. The surprise was that it happened with the English players taking the knee and some [Scotland] players saw that and thought, ‘I’ve got a decision to make on the spot, do I do this or do I not?’” 

Asked if he thought rugby was in danger of looking out of touch on the issue compared to other sports, Townsend added: “Everyone’s got an opinion on anything and if people have an opinion on that, then that’s up to them. There’s a moment to reflect, there are messages going up on the screens, everyone is watching on TV, they’re not at the stadium. It’s what rugby has chosen to do and we’ll follow that.”

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