The Human Rights Commission welcomes the Canterbury Rugby Football Union’s move to penalise a player who racially abused an opposing player during a game last month.
Racism has no place on our rugby fields and we welcome the leadership shown by Canterbury Rugby.
This is not an isolated incident. It has been a difficult couple of years for player Peni Manumanuiliwa, who along with others, has had the courage to go public about the racial abuse they have been facing on the field and off.
Players deserve a fair go, no one should have to put up with this.
The union announced on July 7, 2016 that a Waihora club player was suspended for 40 weeks after being found guilty of ‘Acts or Statements that are discriminatory by reason of Religion, Race, Sex or National or Ethnic origin.’
Racism must go
We need to put a stake in the ground as a sports loving nation and refuse to let racial abuse and side-line abuse become embedded in our sporting codes.
The overwhelming majority of us are better than that. We all need to be prepared to stand up to that offensive spectator or player: it shouldn’t just be up to the referee.
We would like to thank Peni, Chris McMillan from Southbridge Rugby and others like them who make a stand, even when it’s difficult to do so.
In May, the (Human Rights) Commission welcomed a commitment to diversity and inclusion from the country’s major sporting codes, led by New Zealand rugby.
This complements ongoing work to highlight and reduce side-line abuse.
Dame Susan Devoy is Race Relations Commissioner based in Auckland.