The ARL Commission has scrapped the national anthem at the annual All Stars match on the advice of the game’s Indigenous players.
- This will be the ninth edition of the All Stars game, which has been held on the Gold Coast since 2010
- At last year’s match, most of the Indigenous All Stars opted not to sing the national anthem, but performed an Indigenous war cry
- Indigenous All Stars captain Cody Walker said after that game that the national anthem did not represent him or his family
The decision was ticked off after a meeting on Thursday between the ARLC and the NRL, and included consultation from the ARL Indigenous Council.
“The All Stars game was created as a celebration of Indigenous players and their culture,” ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said.
“We have listened to our players’ concerns that the words of the anthem do not represent them or their families and does not include an acknowledgement of First Nations people.
“We respect their wishes and have agreed that the anthem will not be played at the All Stars match on February 22.”
The move has been described by some as the game’s Colin Kaepernick moment, in reference to the former NFL star who knelt during the US anthem in 2016.
He was protesting against the treatment of African-American people in the United States.
Indigenous star Latrell Mitchell posted a photo on Thursday of him leading the Indigenous war cry last year alongside another of Kaepernick in TIME magazine.
Mitchell controversially claimed NSW selectors “went funny” on him and other Indigenous teammates after they chose not to sing the anthem in game one last year.
Meanwhile, the ARLC has also provisionally signed off on the introduction of a captain’s challenge for the 2020 NRL season.
Only the captain, or a second player nominated should the skipper be off the field, are allowed to challenge calls that involve a structured restart.
Teams are granted one unsuccessful challenge per game.
The rule change will be trialled during the traditional Charity Shield trial between St George Illawarra and South Sydney on February 29 in Mudgee.
Clubs, players and broadcast partners will be consulted before the commission makes a final verdict before the start of the season.