England Rugby Squad and fans react to anthem gesture



Prince William, Duke of Cambridge: said: “I am deeply disappointed that we may lose sight of the anthem and why it is so important. We should always continue to honour the heroes of our armed forces, and it is important that we do so with pride.”

Denise Lewis: Olympics 100m champion, who retired in 2011: “I am for people’s rights to freedom of expression. All I am saying is we shouldn’t be disrespectful to the armed forces. It is against my beliefs and I’m not racist.”

James Haskell: Stade Francais forward: “We will listen to everybody’s opinion and if it is not our guys then it is not going to happen. I’m in the club, and I will have a chat about it with the management and stuff.”

Eddie Jones: England coach: “Everybody is entitled to have an opinion. We have had enough of government-imposed rules. It is more important to me than a long-term player.”

JOHN BILLON: Quins chairman: “I’m in favour of the right to freedom of expression, and this is freedom of expression. I don’t think you can take it one way or the other. One person may be quite upset about this, one person may be quite happy about it, but it won’t affect what we do here.”

Barry Horne: Ex-Wales and Lions prop: “It’s just something that came out and it is what it is. Personally, the best way to react to things like this is to not give them any more power, or energy, so it is up to you to react to them.”

JOE JACKSON: Scotland prop: “I wasn’t looking at it from a national standpoint, obviously we are not in the England national team. It just comes down to being patriotic. It’s not going to affect the way that I train, or the way that I’m looked after. If it did, then I would be pretty disappointed.”

Shareholders of Of Course, Arena: They rang the Guardian’s CEO to complain about the role played by “a British newspaper,” though UK and Overseas bosses of the group denied any intervention by them in the matter.

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Some Top 10 snooker players are to boycott BBC television coverage of the upcoming World Championship. “Why don’t you apologise to the boys for kicking them out of a holiday and a holiday to the Olympics?” asked snooker presenter Jonathan Agnew. “Haven’t you seen what happened at the Paralympics? You don’t kick people out for them not being patriotic enough, do you?” O’Sullivan defended taking a knee. “If we are going to disrespect the flag we won’t be able to win at the Olympics.”

BBC Sport editor Barney Francis: “This is a silly stunt that we are just handing over our platforms to for a fee. You have to ask yourself why the guys involved in this happened. I mean surely in one way or another they have a home in rugby, right? If they wanted a charity tour of rugby union they should have made a special request.”

Rugby Football Union board director Gregor Townsend: “Unfortunately, I’m sure the players have thought about this issue, and most of us have been at football grounds where [Kick It Out] isn’t doing its job – we should be leading the way with everybody.”

Wasps striker Josh Bassett: “You are not allowed to kneel for an anthem in football because it is deemed disrespectful. So I don’t see why we can’t do it in rugby. Everyone should have the right to do whatever they want.”

FLORHAM PARK: “Disagree” written on the Red Devils crest under the club badge. A club spokesman said: “The badge has been vandalised in a cowardly manner. We are fortunate to live in a country where we can do that without risk of legal action.”

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