Fair go? Indigenous rugby league players and the racial exclusion of the Australian national anthem

Jamie Cleland, Keith Parry, Daryl Adair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article explores the implications of widely publicized national anthem protests by several Indigenous rugby league players in Australia during 2019. With a goal of doing justice to these Indigenous voices (and in this case also their silence), a critical race theory framework was deployed to both listen to and interpret the reasons behind the protests. The data source was online media reports that centered on the perspectives of players and rugby league officials, along with responses to the protests by prominent journalists and politicians via online opinion pieces. The findings indicate that the voices of Indigenous athletes in Australia are important in raising concerns about nationalist rituals and symbols that, by their colonialist nature, subjugate Aboriginal peoples. Importantly, the Indigenous rugby league players were not alone in their campaign. The Recognition in Anthem Project, which began in 2017, indicates that the perspectives of these protesting rugby players were part of a wider discussion about change. The movement for a new national anthem, therefore, was not just isolated to sport, and this appears to have provided the Indigenous rugby players—as social commentators—with atypical influence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunication and Sport
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2020


  • Racism
  • Media
  • Sport
  • National identity
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Australia
  • Race
  • Protest
  • Activism

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