Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Sarries and Chiefs plan Thatcher silence

Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths insisted the club's decision to hold a minute's silence in memory of Baroness Thatcher was not a matter of politics but "a question of respect".

Saracens and Exeter have both confirmed they will mark the former Prime Minister's death with periods of silence ahead of their respective Aviva Premiership fixtures this weekend. Premiership Rugby have not issued a central edict, leaving each individual home club to make their own decision on what has become a divisive issue in sport.

"We think it is the right thing to do. It is a question of respect, not a question of politics," Griffiths told Press Association Sport. "I don't think anyone would disagree that Baroness Thatcher made an immense contribution to this country and indeed the wider world. We think as a club that it is correct to respect that contribution."

The LV= County Championship began on Wednesday without honouring Baroness Thatcher, who died on Monday aged 87, and the weekend's football fixtures will follow suit.

The Premier League and Football League have not asked clubs to formally mark the former Prime Minister's passing and although there has been no public statement on the issue, the FA has privately confirmed again on Wednesday there will be no minute's silence ahead of the two FA Cup semi-finals this weekend.

Griffiths is confident the minute's silence will be respected ahead of Sunday's game against Worcester at Allianz Park, despite some Saracens supporters voicing their disagreement on social media sites.

He added: "In our mind it is a clear and simple decision. Sometimes in life when clear and simple decisions are there to be made, you make them without worrying what one or two might say. If something is right, it is right. I am confident Saracens supporters will conduct themselves in a respectful way as they always do.

"Whether football clubs are able to say the same thing about their supporters is a matter for them. I don't understand how that would affect whether it is right to show respect or not. Something is either the right thing to do or not the right thing to do."

Exeter chief executive Tony Rowe said he was not making a political statement in holding a minute's silence for Baroness Thatcher.

Rowe told Press Association Sport: "It is about showing a bit of respect. I lived through that era. Somebody had to stand up and be counted and she certainly did that, whether she was liked or disliked. I dread to think what sort of mess we would be in today if someone like didn't stand up. I am not doing it as a political gesture, no."

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