Why Barrie McDermott thinks Israel Folau got it wrong

Israel Folau (4) of Catalans Dragons choses no to take the knee in support of Black Lives Matter as every other player takes the knee

Former Great Britain international Barrie McDermott has taken issue with Israel Folau’s decision not to ‘take the knee’ ahead of Catalans Dragons meeting with St Helens on Sunday.

The players from both sides made a symbolic gesture of solidarity with anti-racism movement Black Lives Matter, but the controversial Australian opted against it.

McDermott feels that Folau is once again drawing negative attention to himself and has ruined an opportunity for the 13-man code to show solidarity on the issue of racism.

“Our attention [is] drawn to somebody who has the right to show how they feel and their beliefs, and their values and principles, but I thought it was just a chance for us all as a game to take the knee and to show solidarity with all our mates,” McDermott told Sky Sports.

“I’m disappointed; I reckon most people will be disappointed. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion; I personally think he got it wrong.”

As an organisation Dragons have defended Folau’s right to make his own mind up about such gestures.

“As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in-depth, and as a club, we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity,” said Dragons coach Steve McNamara.

“But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee.

“That was based on personal choice, they have their own reasons for doing that, and we decided we would respect anyone’s personal choice on the matter.”

‘Taking the knee’ has become increasingly common at sporting events in recent weeks with football’s Premier League allowing players to show their support before kick-off.

In Formula One such gestures have taken place ahead of each race with the FIA now providing an official timeslot for ‘taking the knee’ ahead of the British Grand Prix after some drivers failed to turn up in Hungary.

In the United States, the origin of the BLM movement, Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic became the first NBA player not to kneel during the national anthem since the league resumed in Florida, remaining standing ahead of Friday’s game.


  1. He showed respect not social justice kudos. He has the right as an individual to act as he did with respect and dignity.
    I wish the MSM had morals and honesty with them, and didn’t fall to Chicken Licken “The Sky is Falling Down” routine everyday.
    Rugby League is not a political platform and I use to respect Mr McDermott until he started to follow the party lines. As any communication been sort with the said player and his respectful stance?
    Not seen it once in the NRL or their website about this matter and any of this BLM nonsense (the movement not the cause). They showed respect for the native population of Australia, Kudos to them.

    • Not ‘Taking the knee’ shows that everyone isn’t jumping on the BLM bandwagon. Put a colour in front of Lives Matter and that in itself is racist. People can show support for equality without this staged show. Without Antifa the BLM isnt as well supported as you may think.

  2. Dear Barrie , don’t normally have a problem with your view on rugby league as your normally switched on and knowledgeable on our great sport . But I have to disagree with you on this one . Because when you were playing this sport in freedom and safety . Provide by the likes of me and thounds of others like me in the British armed forces having served in 3 major conflicts falklands , northern Ireland and the Gulf war . I’ve provide the freedom for mr Falou to take to the knee or stand up . The same freedom and safety we provided for you to do what you want to do , when you want to do it

    • I think Folau got it wrong and you are right Baz. There’s a couple of different views as well as the one you express about him drawing attention from the issue of showing support for his black mates in the game. First is he saying black lives don’t matter and second is he saying he is above supporting a collective and agreed point of view in the game. Whatever his view his action stinks. Will he be allowed to dissent if there is a gay lives matter movement or disabled lives matter. If he is truly saying all lived matter he should also show support, not just respect for all humanity. Mc Banana should be encouraging inclusivity not supporting separatism

      • He hasn’t said black lives don’t matter. Have you noticed that he is black? And have you noticed that he is getting told by white people that he should be kneeling? And have you any idea how ridiculous it is for a group of white men to condemn a black man for not getting on his knees in an attempt to combat racism? Do you know why sky and BBC don’t allow blm badges on their presenters? Do you know that half the F1 drivers refuse to kneel? Do you know what the extreme left wing, ultra-marxist blm is actually about? Please, wake up!

  3. I have the utmost respect for him to take the decision based on his own opinion not to ‘take the knee’. There are too many sheep in sport who haven’t got the balls to do what they wish to do, as opposed to what they perceive is what they’re expected to do to look as though they are towing the line!

  4. Others might feel the same whatever face and yes he did his thing as others can’t due to a culture of victimisation and possibly loss of career.Please let’s stick to rugby league as we are multi culture game that’s who we are.

  5. I think that everyone has the right to choose what action they take in response to a situation, I cynical suggest that as Sky pay Mr McDermott’s wages he has to tow the party line.Imposing an action on someone can be counter productive.

  6. He should be free to do as he pleases based on his conscience and not be pressured into making gestures he doesn’t agree with. I’m a little surprised at Barrie Mc supporting the blatantly Marxist – Anarcho rabble that is BLM, maybe he should take a leaf out of Israel’s book – or would his employers not like it.

  7. Individual choice and freedom are paramount but why oh why court controversy at ever opportunity like this. Just take the knee and show some support an solidarity for a community who have been treated appallingly historically and still today.

    • ‘Taking the knee’ was a gesture by a gridiron star to show his objection to the USA anthem. What possible relevance does it have to black people (or anyone else) in the U.K.? Outside of the US it’s a nonsense, meaningless tokenist gesture. So why should he “just take the knee” if he disagrees with it? Because you say so? I call BS on this racially divisive load of thugs and if it had any brains, RL would have kept out of it.
      It doesn’t need to pretend – the game has a long long history of including black players. Way before it was deemed the thing to do.

  8. s So Barrie you think its right to kneel down to an organisation whose founders and leaders leaders by their own admission is to bring down elected governments by any means and impose a marxist regime ,not my words but theirs.If the blm get the results they want these sportsmen would find their well paid salaries disappear

  9. Can’t disagree with any of the previous comments, I would just say Mr McDermott should stick to comments on Rugby League as previously stated Blm are a political organization dedicated to the overthrow of democracy as we know it.

  10. Sky tv are making this a big issue.they are promoting a political movement and say most people support
    blm.they are wrong and castigating Falou will onlymake things worse.

  11. I would rather see one man making an informed choice, rather than 13 following the ‘trend’. However, as has been said before Barrie, whilst I may not agree with you, I will defend your right to say it, because it is all about respect. We don’t need politics on the field of play simply because it becomes devisive and poisonous.

  12. I was so disappointed last weekend when rugby league resumed, to see BLM advertising plastered on the stands. I’m not racist but I am definitely against the Black Lives Matter movement. I think there is a very small minority who actually know what the movement stands for and unfortunately, it appears professional sports haven’t got a clue. Please educate yourself on this movement and make an informed decision before making fools of yourself by supporting a movement that wants to defund and eventually abolish the police force and enforce a marxist regime. Professional sport will be one of the first things to suffer if they get their way, so why are you supporting them? I absolutely love rugby league and don’t want to see it tarnished by association to this movement. I hope many people will read up on this subject and complain to the RFL about the support it is giving to the BLM movement.

  13. I am sick to death of sports spouting about BLM. If people want to support it then fair enough but where does it stop. The person who hired the plane that flew over the Burnley football match with All Lives Matter lost his job and was villified, why, it was his opinion and wasnt illigal. Sport should stay impartial and pundits should not talk about it on a sports programme.

  14. I am disappointed that rugby is beingused as a political tool, just stop it.
    BLM black lives matter is a neo marxist organisation, by there own admission stated on their website, they want to destroy democracy, the family unit and remove history for their own ends. They have right to freedom of speech but the promotion of this evil organisation is as bad as Supporting Hitler. We know how that worked out.
    The consequences of this is sponsors wil suffer and so will the support. If they do this next week i will switch off and only watch NRL at least they have some sense on this matter.

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