On the ten year anniversary of the NRL All Stars, The Australian Rugby League Commission has decided to scrap the National anthem from the pre-match festivities.
Commission chairman Peter V’landys said the move was made after discussions with the game’s leading Indigenous athletes and the governing bodies’ Indigenous Rugby League Council.
“The All Stars game was created as a celebration of Indigenous players and their culture,” he said in a statement.
“We have listened to our players concerns that the words of the anthem do not represent them of their families and does not include an acknowledgement of First Nations people”.
Last year, All Stars captain Cody Walker spoke out against the song, saying he felt uncomfortable singing it and that "it doesn't represent myself or my family." Australian coach Mal Meninga also called for a referendum on the issue.
Walker and a number of other leading Indigenous players including Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Will Chambers also boycotted singing the anthem throughout the 2019 State of Origin series.
At the time, Over The Black Dot panellist Timana Tahu suggested in a column for NITV that the public stance may have had some impact on the axing of Mitchell and Walker from the Blues team for game two, saying
"Did it cost some of them their positions in the team? I think yes and no,"
"It’s hard for an Indigenous person to stand up for their rights and when you’re at a sporting level, when you come out and are strong in your opinion and voice, certain people don’t like it and a lot of the mainstream media captures those responses.
But many people in everyday life would agree that there was nothing wrong in not singing the anthem .. For Latrell and Cody Walker, part of the reason why they got the chop was that they did that."
Jodan Perry is the host of NITV's flagship Rugby League program Over the Black Dot, which returns on Tuesday March 17 8:30pm.