RFU to review 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' chant over slavery links

RFU to review 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' chant over slavery links

REUTERS: The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is conducting a review into the singing of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' by England fans as many are unaware of the song's links with American slavery, the domestic governing body said on Thursday.

The anthem, believed to have been written by a slave in the mid-19th century, became a mainstay with England fans in the 1980s, with its lyrics displayed all around Twickenham Stadium.

However, with widespread protests against racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis last month, the RFU said it wanted to educate supporters about the song's origins.

"The RFU has stated we need to do more to achieve diversity and we are determined to accelerate change," an RFU spokesperson was quoted as saying by British media on Thursday.

"The Swing Low, Sweet Chariot song has long been part of the culture of rugby and is sung by many who have no awareness of its origins or sensitivities.

"We are reviewing its historical context and our role in educating fans to make informed decisions."

England international Maro Itoje said earlier this week that the song had a complicated background.

"Don't get me wrong. I don't think anyone at Twickenham is singing it with malicious intent," he told The Daily Mail. "But the background of that song is complicated."

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Source: Reuters