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England rugby's 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' song under review

The song 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot', a staple of English rugby fans at Twickenham, is under revie...

The song 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot', a staple of English rugby fans at Twickenham, is under review by the RFU over its origins to slavery.

The song has roots in the 19th century and is believed to have been written by Wallis Willis, a black slave.

'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' has become as synonymous with English rugby as the 'Fields of Athenry' is with Irish rugby, but England lock Maro Itoje recently described the song as 'complicated' and the English Rugby Football Union is to review its use.

An RFU spokesperson told the Guardian:

“The RFU has stated we need to do more to achieve diversity and we are determined to accelerate change and grow awareness. 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.”

The 'Black Lives Matter' movement has prompted the RFU to tackle diversity head on, and 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' will be a part of the conversation.

In a statement, they added:

“The appalling death of George Floyd, the global protests that have followed and the powerful message of the Black Lives Matter movement has made every section of society take notice and confront an ugly truth.

“Systemic change must be made at all levels so that we can become truly reflective of our wonderfully diverse society. We can no longer rely on black role models at the elite level speaking out, we must join together to become better and to support every member of the sport and recreation community.”

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