Black Lives Matter and Rugby League in Leeds discussion

Jamaica fans and supporters at Emerald Headingley in 2019

Since the tragic death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter campaign has touched everyone globally. 

Every business, brand, national governing body, education centre and service area has to look at their policies, language, offering, workforce and ask can I do more? More than that they have to understand the why and their why…

Alex Simmons is known to most Rhinos fans for his matchday role at Emerald Headingley and his work with our very own Jamie Jones-Buchanan on Rugby AM. However, Alex’s day job is with international agency IMA as their Head of Diversity and he has helped pulled together an excited project involving the Rhinos. 

Alex told us, “In my role at IMA, we’ve laid solid foundations internally and developed a unique process to help other organisations with their Diversity needs.

“Alongside my work at IMA, I co-own and present Rugby AM with Jamie Jones-Buchanan and I hope during my 8 years at Rugby AM other young black and dual heritage boys and girls have been inspired to get involved in the sport through us raising awareness of the game and it’s personalities.

“The last hat I wear is certainly the most unique, alongside Jason Robinson, who is a legend in both codes of rugby, we are the operations directors for the Jamaica national Rugby League team. For the first time in our history we will play in the Rugby League World Cup in 2021 held here in England. For a lad who grew up not knowing his dad, this journey has been so important connecting to my roots and understanding my heritage. 

“This week marked 500 days to go to the World Cup and it was announced that Jamaica will be hosted in our home city of Leeds! In 2019 we played at Emerald Headingley and a lot of work went in to developing relationships with the Carnival, The Black Health initiative, the black music festival and key people in the community. One thing we realised is the black community is disengaged from Rugby League. Myself and Jason pulled together some key people related to the Leeds Rhinos, Leeds as a city, Jamaica RL and held a 2 hour work shop on a zoom call to discuss what positive action can be taken.

“A big thank you to Danny Evans from Black Lives Matter for his support on the call and we look forward to working with you and the team in raising awareness and inspiring change. Thanks to Steve Walker, Chev Walker, Sophie Robinson, Ann Jones-Bishop, Jason Robinson, Jon Magrin for taking part. This is the first of many workshops to help us learn, connect and take positive action in life and in sport,” added Alex.

If you would like to know more about the plans for the Jamaican Rugby League team ahead of the World Cup in 2021 or think that you might be able to help with the matters raised in the video please email [email protected]