'Don't do it': Wallabies legends clash over BLM protest

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
A 50-50 split image shows Gary Ella on the left and Nick Farr-Jones on the right.
Australian rugby greats Gary Ella and Nick Farr-Jones are at odds over talk the Wallabies will take a knee during the national anthem as a symbolic protest against racism and police brutality. Pictures: Getty Images

World Cup-winning captain Nick Farr-Jones has warned the Wallabies that fans will tune out if they take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty raised the prospect on Wednesday when he said the Wallabies would consider making the silent protest, possibly even before Saturday week's third Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks in Sydney.

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The Wallabies will be wearing a specially-designed Indigenous jersey for that match, as well as against Argentina later in the Tri Nations series.

"Sport has a lot of opportunity to join conversations and have a say and a lot of sports have done that," Haylett-Petty said.

"I can't speak for everyone but it would be a great show of support. I think that would be a discussion to have as a group and we'd definitely consider it."

The Wallabies would be the first national sporting team from Australia to take a knee, but Farr-Jones on Thursday cautioned against it.

"To take the risk of basically splitting the support the Wallabies are starting to earn through their gutsy performances in Wellington and Auckland - just don't do it guys, it's too risky," Farr-Jones said on radio 2GB.

"You run the risk that a few (viewers) would just turn off. They don't want to see politics in national sport. That's a real risk. I think it could be divisive."

Rugby icon Gary Ella hits back at Nick Farr-Jones

Farr-Jones went on in his interview to suggest that the majority of Australian rugby supporters would ‘agree that all lives matter’.

"I don't think here in Australia that we have a major issue in relation to discrimination of coloured people," he said.

He also referred the Wallabies’ tour of South Africa in 1992, in which the team took a minute of silence to acknowledge victims of township violence.

However the controversial interview raised the ire of fellow Wallabies great Gary Ella, who said it was a ridiculous to suggest Australia was in a particularly enlightened place when it came to the issue of racism.

Former Australian rugby player Gary Ella is pictured during a press conference.
Former Australian rugby player Gary Ella says it is up to players whether or not they choose to take a knee during the national anthem. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Ella said while taking a knee remained a personal choice, Farr-Jones was showing ignorance of Indigenous history.

“That obviously shows that Nick doesn't have a full appreciation of the history of Aboriginal people in this country,” Ella said.

“If you're talking about reconciliation we're talking about sharing and acknowledging the history that we've come past and are working towards a better future.

“Those type of comments are totally ignoring the history."

With AAP/Darren Walton

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