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By News24 Wire

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‘Siya Kolisi is right to express his opinion’ – SA Rugby’s Jurie Roux on BLM

'I, for one, would never tell him what to say. He must have his own opinion and he's exercised expressing that. I accept that he'll have the support of many people, but he'll also have detractors.'

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said the organisation respected Springbok captain Siya Kolisi’s views on Black Lives Matter and it was not their place to dictate to the World Cup-winning skipper.

Kolisi said over the weekend that Black Lives Matter was more than just a sporting movement or conversation, it’s something he lived growing up in Port Elizabeth, where as a kid he sometimes went a day without a single meal.

“Siya is his own man,” Roux told reporters in a virtual media briefing on Monday.

“It’s through his own character and hard work that he’s got himself into the position he currently finds himself in. He’s led us to a World Cup victory. It’s not my or SA Rugby’s place to dictate to him what he can or cannot say about an issue like Black Lives Matter. He’s shown enough leadership and commands enough respect to tell his own story.

“I, for one, would never tell him what to say. He must have his own opinion and he’s exercised expressing that. I accept that he’ll have the support of many people, but he’ll also have detractors. However, that’s the dynamic in most instances.

“I respect his stance on the matter and I’ll respect every other person’s stance on it too, because we will differ in opinion on the various aspects and issues, be it Black Lives Matter, farm murders or gender-based violence.”

Black Lives Matter has been thrust to the foreground of the South African cricketing and rugby landscapes following the wave of support for the movement, and Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi’s stance thereof, from cricket, rugby and women sporting figures.

Rugby has been particularly in the spotlight and criticised for its snail pace in transformation. While the Springboks killed all myths that transformation was exclusive of winning by claiming the 2019 World Cup, opportunities in high-placed rugby roles remain largely white male occupied.

The list of rugby personalities – including former Boks Ashwin Willemse, Adrian Jacobs and Thando Manana – that signed a statement in support of Black Lives Matter and called for fair opportunities for black coaches and administrators has reached the 500 mark.

“We have been very good at acknowledging the sins and wrongs of the past,” said Roux.

“We have been making some very good progress around our transformation, specifically in the new Strategic Transformation Development Plan.

“But what we’re dealing with here – in terms of Black Lives Matter, farm murders, gender-based violence – transcends far beyond transformation and a transformation plan.

“We’re now dealing with what is, to me, respect for others, respect for cultural differences and respect for human life on a daily basis.

“We need to own up, in terms of the Black Lives Matter conversations in rugby and not steer away from them. We need to let people tell their stories and, more importantly, we’ve got to listen to them and hear what they’re saying.

“We need to continue dialogue and we need to figure it out together. And if we need to change things to do that, then absolutely.”

READ NEXT: WATCH: ‘It’s time to change’ – Siya Kolisi on Black Lives Matter

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