Anthony Mundine has joined Latrell Mitchell in criticising the singing of the national anthem in Indigenous language.
The majority of the country rejoiced on Saturday night when Olivia Fox and the Australian players sang the first verse of Advance Australia Fair in Eora language before the Wallabies’ clash with Argentina.
Fox, a student at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts, sent social media into overdrive after singing the anthem in Indigenous language.
All 23 Wallabies players also sang the first verse in Eora language after rehearsing all week, before also belting out Advance Australia Fair in English.
But while the stunning first was widely celebrated around Australia, Indigenous athlete Mundine is not happy.
Mundine, who has previously refused to walk out to the boxing ring until after the national anthem is played, said Saturday night’s first was like rubbing salt into the wounds of Indigenous people.
Mundine told the Daily Telegraph the anthem is the “theme song for the White Australia policy” and changing the language it is sung in doesn’t change the sentiment.
“For me...It’s like kicking someone when they’re down. The message of the anthem is wrong,” he said.
“It was putting salt into the wound for Aboriginal men.
“If they want to change things then actually change the words of the anthem.
“But you can’t just sing the same original text in Aboriginal language and think it’s going to fly with people.
“It got people talking but it still ain’t the right message. It looks good and sounded good when the Wallabies sang it and it looks like they’re giving back - but they’re not really giving back.”
Mundine expressed similar sentiments to NRL player Mitchell.
“When will people understand that changing it to language doesn’t change the meaning!” the South Sydney Rabbitohs player posted on Instagram on Saturday.
“Be proud but understand what you’re being proud of.
“I stand for us, our mob! Be proud of the oldest living culture. Always was, always will be.”
Indigenous-language anthem could be here to stay
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, who had to settle for a second-straight draw with Argentina, said the players were proud to become the first sporting team to sing the Indigenous version.
Rugby Australia instigated the move to coincide with the side’s wearing of the First Nations jersey.
“We were practising during the week and our guys were - there was never a question - proud to have the opportunity to do it,” Hooper said.
“I think it sounded pretty good, too. Wearing an Indigenous jersey and singing that in Aboriginal and then English, it was great and it was great to be a part of.”
Fox has previously delivered the Indigenous version of the anthem at Randwick’s Sydney club rugby matches and is fast becoming a national icon.
Netballer Kim Green claimed the performance was “the BEST Australian sporting moment I have ever seen” while former Wallabies star Matt Giteau - married to AFL star Lance Franklin’s sister Bianca - endorsed Rugby Australia’s groundbreaking initiative.
“Special moment in Australian sport - well done,” Giteau tweeted.
Calls are already growing for the Indigenous version to become permanent, with Rugby Australia understood to be considering the move after Saturday night’s rousing success.
Wallabies playmaker James O’Connor said he “one hundred per cent” supported the version being performed more and more at events around the country.
“Aboriginal people are one of the oldest civilisations and it's a part of us,” he said.
O’Connor said Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, of Cook Islands heritage, deserved huge credit for instilling a fresh culture within the group since officially taking the reins in June.
Absolutely fantastic: every Wallabies player sung the first half of the national anthem in Indigenous language. Learned the words. Paid respect. A great step forward 🔴🟡⚫️ #AUSvARG pic.twitter.com/Efy91gIRt7
— Jamie Pandaram (@JamiePandaram) December 5, 2020
Amazing !! Well done Australian Rugby Union for the first ever in a sporting event in Australia singing the national anthem in Eora language of the Gadigal people and to the players learning the language and singing it loud and proud. #respect #AUSvARG #Wallabies 🖤💛❤️ https://t.co/89mis55Woj
— Bianca Giteau (@beeanchor84) December 5, 2020
So great to see the respect & acknowledgment of Aboriginal culture tonight. National anthem sung in the language of the Eora people as well as English for the first time at an international sporting event 🖤💛❤️ Go Wallabies! @wallabies pic.twitter.com/k53UvqPdNs
— Julie McCrossin AM (@JulieMcCrossin) December 5, 2020
That is one incredible national anthem @wallabies! As an athlete every time the Australian anthem is performed it should be done this way. I would love to win a gold medal and hear this playing loud and proud, so so inspiring.
— Richard Colman AM (@RichardColman84) December 5, 2020
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