Ali Price defends team-mates’ right to stay standing during ‘moment of reflection’

Scotland No9 took a knee at Twickenham but has no issue with those who did not

Four members of the Scotland squad - Ali Price, Jonny Gray, Chris Harris and Cam Redpath - took the knee ahead of Saturday's match against England at Twickenham. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Four members of the Scotland squad - Ali Price, Jonny Gray, Chris Harris and Cam Redpath - took the knee before last week's match against England at Twickenham. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

ALI Price has explained that he took the knee before kick-off against England because he felt personally that it was the right thing to do. He insisted, however, that he had no issue with those of his Scotland team-mates who remained standing, saying he believed the decision how to mark the pre-match “moment of reflection” should be a matter of individual choice.

Price, Chris Harris, Jonny Gray and Cameron Redpath were the only four Scots from the squad of 23 who did take the knee during the “moment”, which was held after a “moment of applause” to celebrate the life of those who have died during the Covid pandemic including Captain Tom Moore, and another “moment” of silence in recognition of a number of England internationals who have died in recent months,

“It just felt like the right thing to do for me personally,” the Glasgow scrum-half said earlier today (Monday). “I’ve never taken a knee in any of the games I’ve been involved in before – it was never a part of any of the build-up to PRO14 games or in the Autumn Tests.  At the time it was what I felt was right to do.


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“We were told beforehand that there would be a round of applause for Sir Tom and everyone who has sadly passed away due to Covid, followed by a moment of reflection around racism in sport and in general, and that it is very much individual.  On the day, I felt it was right to take a knee, but at the same time I could have stood like many of the other players and team-mates did and just had that moment of reflection. I feel like there’s different ways to do that.

“I don’t think there’s too much to read into that. Everyone was reflective, everyone was respectful, and then we got on with the anthems and the game.

“Everyone is individual. Everyone has their reasons as to whether they would or wouldn’t. For me, it was just a moment of reflection. I took the knee, got back up, the anthems played and we got on with the game.”

There had appeared to be some confusion about the kneeling incident at the time, perhaps because, like Price, many members of the Scottish squad had not been participants in a game where it happened before. That confusion was soon dispelled, however, and Scotland, as the scrum-half said, got on with the game all right, and went on to win the match at Twickenham 11-6.

It was only yesterday morning that the furore began to build, and now, with a home game against Wales coming up on Saturday, the Scotland players may have a formal discussion in camp about how to approach the pre-match ceremonies. “It’s not been spoken about yet,” Price continued.

“There may well be a discussion, but I feel again it’s an individual’s decision. We’re all grown men, you guys will be the same, you’ll have your opinions and thoughts on the matter. Potentially we could have a discussion, but at the end of the day it’s an individual decision.”

Asked if it should be down to the governing bodies to make a ruling on the matter, Price added: “Potentially. But in terms of changing what went on at the weekend, that’s gone now. And looking forward, if we’re going to take a stance and have conversations about it and make a decision as a collective then that will happen.”

By the time Price spoke, Six Nations Limited, the tournament organisers, had in fact issued a statement. “Ahead of the Championship a decision was made that we would continue to mark this with players taking a moment of silence and an on-screen message ahead of the national anthems,” it said.

“In line with our approach during the Autumn Nations Cup, there was no request to take a knee. It is important that players are free to demonstrate their support for this important issue in the way they see fit. It is an entirely personal decision and we respect each player’s right to make their choice.”

Given the panache with which they dispatched England to claim a first win in London since 1983, Scotland will be strong favourites to beat Wales, who eventually found their way past 14-man Ireland yesterday, winning 21-16. It was perhaps a more laboured victory than the Welsh would have hoped for when Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony was sent off after quarter of an hour, but Price believes they are an improving side who will be dangerous opponents when they come to Murrayfield.

“Watching the game yesterday, they were far improved from the autumn. And we expect them to be better again on Saturday.

“In the autumn you could see they were trying to change their game, and that’s going to take time. I think any team takes time to settle under a new head coach, a new coaching team who are looking to bring in a slightly different style of play.

“But that doesn’t get away from the fact that they’re still world-class players. You’ve got guys like George North potentially winning 100 caps, Alun Wyn Jones 100-odd caps, Ken Owens is right up there, Jonathan Davies, Dan Biggar . . .

“You know, these players are still world class. They just need time to adjust to certain subtle changes a new coach can bring into a team.”

  • Meanwhile, Gregor Townsend has added Edinburgh centre George Taylor (who is currently suspended after a red-card against Zebre last month), Edinburgh scrum-half Charlie Shiel and Glasgow Warriors tight-head prop D’arcy Rae to his Scotland training squad ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations round two match against Wales.

Meanwhile, Sale Sharks hooker Ewan Ashman, Edinburgh full-back Blair Kinghorn, Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Jamie Dobie and Glasgow Warriors wing Rufus McLean have been released back to their cubs in order to get game time this weekend.


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About Stuart Bathgate 1415 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

21 Comments

  1. Well I am not on a high horse and any antipathy toward my comment may well be due to using your favourite Mantra.
    If I missed the point perhaps your comments in future should take into consideration that others may not be able to read your mind, perhaps its best to ‘let the professional journalists do their Job’: sorry I couldn’t resist a bit of sarcasm.

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    • This was a response to Neil but unfortunately posted at the wrong end of the article comments. Sorry.

      • I forgive you cupcake, we all know you can’t resist replying to me ?

        P.s – learn to use sarcasm correctly. I in turn will explain my comments more clearly so you will be able to comprehend what is being said (would not want you to fall behind)

        Let the pros do their jobs.

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  2. This is another example of the problems with a brave modern world in which many people form their views through social media content shorn of all context, nuance and detail. The self-righteous, sanctimonious wailing from some quarters has been pathetic.

    They saw a photo, assumed the convention is the same as football where everybody kneels before every game and then piled in with abuse and criticism. No international teams have taken the knee to date and there was no directive, agreement or discussion about that changing. Every single player at the Wales v Ireland match stood.

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    • Agreed, not sure why the offsideline has decided to post this article either, i suggest i be removed for the good of the game.

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  3. It is time Rugby and Sport [and society] rid itself of the self driven guilt complex that does absolutely nothing to stop either of the rogue individuals that gave the opportunity for this BLM crowd to hijack the incident, a group incidentally that is remarkably silent of the 19 Dictatorships currently recognised in Africa and a total of 50 around the world seem to be untouchable and critique free.
    The sooner this tokenism stops the better, in truth it means little when individuals are coerced, some would say aggressively shamed into obedience of a group [BLM] that is riddled with anything but individuals believing in the freedoms of Society as we would know.
    The fact that a society that is increasingly ‘guilt ridden’ for no personal reason continues to follow this ‘gesture’ response that becomes increasingly meaningless months after the incident is as much to do with Corporate Business and Media desperate to dissociate itself from erroneous claims.

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    • Absolutely nothing wrong with showing solidarity with anti-racism – it’s a proud Scottish tradition (not to downplay our country’s role in causing the problem in the first place).

      That said, I’m more concerned about whether BAME kids, along with white working class kids, are getting the opportunity to be introduced to and play rugby. The danger with gestures is you take a knee and think that’s the problem solved.

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      • However there is a time and place and in the immediacy of an International I would suggest it is the last place it should be, and why should individuals have to prove they are not Racist.

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      • George – the reason these anti-racism messages are displayed during sporting events is because so many sportspeople continue to be subject to racist abuse, simply for being ‘pros doing their jobs’. In the last few weeks and months there have been high profile cases in rugby, football and cricket. The messages will (sadly) continue to be relevant as long as there is racism in sport. Whether players mark this kneeling or standing is perhaps a non-story, but there is no question in my mind that some kind of anti-racist gesture is appropriate.

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      • As I said there is a time and place as and where necessary I don’t think it is the place directly before the kick off, if at all in Rugby, or anywhere else for that matter and I am not convinced the problem is endemic to the degree that is being suggested. That’s my opinion and obviously ours differ. With regard to ‘taking the Knee’ it’s a response that I consider to be inappropriate and another of the empty gestures that have invaded society over the recent years. Anyway that’s enough of this, it is an online site for Scottish Rugby and as such this is not the place to discuss it.

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      • George – both of my comments related directly to rugby. I believe it was yourself who went off on a tangent about African dictators.

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      • I agree that it was myself that mentioned that in the context of things the usual suspects seem to be able to ignore Despots in certain areas if you get my drift.
        That said I wasn’t making the comment about your comments or anyone else’s I was criticising myself in the respect of responding to an article that as some have suggested was out of place on a Rugby forum.

      • On that last point George, fair enough, and thanks for the clarification. If nothing else, I think we’re in agreement that empty gestures are to be avoided.

  4. Why can we not just accept we are all deeply racist and move on? So sick of this narrative played by the media, offsideline should do better also.

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    • Sorry just to be clear, i truly believe not a single player in that squad is a racist, sarcasm can be hard to translate online.

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    • Dare I suggest the Mantra ‘let the professionals do their Job’ i.e. play Rugby and keep Politics and faux political correctness well and truly at arms length. As for your assertion regarding attitudes towards Race, drop the ‘we’ and just speak for yourself in future. Thank you.

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      • You completely missed my point due to your opinion of my previous comments. Everything you commented latter to mine is in complete agreement with what i have said. Get of your high horse.

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      • Sadly, JW, it really does (at least in terms of people who have commented on this article). The original article was a reasonable defence of those who chose not to kneel. I really didn’t expect the comments to be so critical of the very concept of opposing racism in sport through a brief pre-match show of solidarity, or even discussing the matter. The pre-match gesture is completely accepted in football. I hope the comments are not representative of Scottish rugby – I certainly don’t think they’re representative of society as a whole.

      • I think you misunderstood me David (probably because I didn’t make myself clear) I was suggesting the people were with George in asking Neil to speak for himself and not the rest of us.

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