Any protesting rugby players could face misconduct charges - Rob Nichol

There have been numerous instances of NFL players and teams protesting during the US national anthem this season
There have been numerous instances of NFL players and teams protesting during the US national anthem this season Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand Rugby Players Association boss Rob Nichol has spoken out what would happen if a player under a New Zealand Rugby contract decided to protest during the national anthem.

Taking a knee has been a big issue in American sports, especially in the National Football League (NFL) after Colin Kaepernick first took a stand in a pre-season match in 2016 to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was booed and criticised for his actions, but a year later, hundreds of players are either taking a knee, linking arms or even sitting during the anthem after President Donald Trump called for players who protest the national anthem to be fired, referring to them as 'sons of bitches.'

Speaking to Andrew Gourdie and Jim Kayes on RadioLIVE's Sunday Sport, Nichol said that if it happened in New Zealand, they would talk to the player about why they took that stance.

"I think common thing to start with would be a sit-down chat afterwards just to say okay you took a knee - that's not normal and what is it about?" Nichol told RadioLIVE.

"We would work through it hopefully in a calm and mature manner and try understanding if it was a point being made around a social issue, understand that issue and how it came to be and why they felt strongly about it.

 "The problem with what has happened in the States arguably is people lost sight of the issue and it has become a Trump vs athletes thing which is all wrong, but exactly what Trump wants." 

Although they did not protest during the anthem, current All Blacks Kane Hames and Sonny Bill Williams have protested in their own ways while on the field.

Last year, Hames wrote 'standing rock' on his forearm during a match for the Maori All Blacks against the USA.

He was showing his support for the protests in North Dakota which are seeking to stop the construction of a $3.7 billion pipeline through Native American land.

While Williams taped over the BNZ logo on his Blues jersey due to his religious beliefs.

Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams Photo credit: Getty

"My objection to wearing clothing that markets banks, alcohol and gambling companies is central to my religious beliefs and it is important to me to have been granted this exemption," Williams said in a statement during the incident.

Nichol said if things got out of hand, there could be a misconduct process.

"You can't prejudge it.  It is about sitting down and looking at it."

"You are in an employment environment and if you do something the employer deems is contrary to their best interests - and that is the actual working in the collective - and that is contrary to their interests then they have a right to do a misconduct process if they deem it necessary. 

"That is up to the employed because that is their job and ultimately what they do is follow a process.

"They then make a determination to whether that is misconduct and whether they want to take action and if the player disagrees with it they can go through the employment courts.

"What happens in these incidents is it leads to a common sense conversation and we get to a good outcome."