Jamaica squad backs Black Lives Matter at rally in Leeds

Jamaica Rugby League have thrown their support behind the Black Lives Matter movement, with members of their national setup speaking at a peaceful protest in Leeds over the weekend.

Operations director Alex Simmons, as well as Jamaica international Jon Magrin, were present at the event in the city, which will host Jamaica during next year’s World Cup, with the national team keen to break down barriers in the local communities within Leeds.

Jamaican captain Joe Brown said: “Over the past month or so we have seen BLM tackle the injustice of ethnic minorities across the world and myself and Jamaica RL believe that this is something we must support and put our voice to such a movement.

“We know Rugby League holds such strong community values and we know Rugby League will do everything in its power to support the BLM and showcase the wonderful belief the sport has as being a community sport for every individual to take part in.

“Going forward as a nation and organisation, everyone at Jamaica RL knows we have to do more for ourselves, but also for all those young black kids that will be watching us play in our first World Cup in 2021. We want to inspire a nation over here and back in Jamaica and we can do this by showing our unity in the face of adversity.”

Simmons, who also presents the show Rugby AM, said: “I’d like to commend the RFL, Super League and the World Cup for not having a tokenistic approach to the Black Lives Matter movement. I work in diversity every day and it’s been great to see the sport own their lack of diversity and refreshing to hear their commitment to improving in all areas.

“It’s particularly great to see the commitment of Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves, who both have initiatives underway to improve community engagement and take positive action to eradicate racism.

“In the last week the conversations I’ve had with Sarah Jane-Grey, Ralph Rimmer, Jon Dutton, Rob Porteus, Karl Fitzpatrick and Phil Daly amongst others make me believe we have a fantastic set of people who want the sport to thrive and engage every community in the UK.

“We held a great workshop last week discussing some of the issues the sport faces engaging the black community in particular, the second workshop will take place this week. All the Jamaica boys have been so supportive of the campaign and I’m a proud member of the Black Lives Matter Leeds team.”