SCOTLAND coach Gregor Townsend has said it’s up to his  players if they want to take the knee before a game. 

There was anger on social media on Saturday after just four of the team who beat England at Twickenham took part in the stance adopted by athletes worldwide in recognition of the Black Lives Movement. 

Cameron Redpath, Chris Harris, Ali Price and Jonny Gray were the only players who took the knee.

All but six England players took part in the protest. 

READ MORE: Scotland fans rejoice following historic Twickenham win – but row sparked over players 'taking the knee'

The row risks overshadowing the team's historic 11-6 victory in the first game of the Six Nations.

Motherwell footballer Tony Watt criticised the players: "Taking the knee ain’t stale troops. It’s literally 2 seconds before a game to show we are against racism. I hope it was a mix up but racism is never ok," he tweeted.

BBC Radio Scotland host John Beattie and former Scotland international posted: "I did wonder at the #TakeTheKnee stance of some of the players today #SixNationsRugby I don’t know what they had been advised to do @EnglandRugby@Scotlandteam I suspect this will kick off a storm when compared to footballers."

Lawyer Aamer Anwar commented: "A thought as Scotland celebrates historic win over England. Ahead of match players lined up for #RugbyagainstRacism majority of English players took the knee & majority of @Scotlandteam did not- meanwhile the anti-racist statement triggered a diatribe for those who took the knee #AsOne?"

Sky Sports journalist Anthony Joseph said: "#AsOne is the message from Scottish Rugby. But the players don’t seem to be ‘as one’ in their stance against racism. It’s less about ‘they should kneel’ and more about ‘why wouldn’t they?’ What do they feel so strongly about to not be part of an anti-racism gesture?"

Speaking to BBC Scotland's Sunday show, Townsend said the decision to take part in the protest was for the individual players.

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He said the team had been told that there would be commemorations of those who have died during the pandemic, and a minutes applause for Captain Sir Tom Moore. 

He added: “As well and obviously the recognition about stamping out racism and discrimination in our sport which which has taken place previously in the season. So yeah that was part of it we obviously stand against any racism and discrimination in our sport.”

Asked if it was left down to the individual player to decide whether or not to take the knee, Townsend said “Yes, 100%. We back the players in that.”

Taking a knee stems from American Footballer's Colin Kaepernick's decision in 2016 to protest against police brutality and racism.

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The quarterback said at the time he couldn't stand up during the national anthem "to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour."

The protest was soon adopted by others and became common in the wake of the Black Lives Matters protests following the killing of George Floyd.