Racism in sport is a subject matter that should affect everyone: players, supporters, sponsors and governing bodies. It should be tackled at every level in every sport. Recently in England, Football’s obvious issue with racism has been thrust into the spotlight after the continuing abhorrent behaviour by fans. This has been both internationally, in England’s game against Bulgaria, but also on a national level with continued abuse against players such as Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli.
As a corollary to the discussion surrounding racism and sport is whether players should be empowered to walk off without facing repercussions. This was the case during Saturday’s League 3 East Central C match between Llanrumney and Trefil when Llanrumney players walked off after alleged racist abuse towards their centre Wayne Dacruz.
Llenrumney took to Twitter to make a statement:
“Never heard anything like it on a rugby pitch before!
“Boys had no option other than walking off, hope it gets dealt with properly by the WRU.
“To be fair to the rest of the Trefil RFC boys, most of them apologised for the incident and one of the coaches popped into our changing rooms after and also apologised. Can’t tar the entire club with the same brush!”
Furthermore, as a response Trefil RFC have suspended the accused player from club activities until a full internal investigation and investigation from the WRU has taken place.
This is an important debate for rugby. It is a far cry to say rugby has a racism problem, it is a sport that prides itself on respect and fair treatment in competition, however Saturday’s events are a timely reminder that rugby is not free from racism. During the World Cup, England forward Maro Itoje expressed these concerns.
“It’s important never to just assume that this is a free zone from any form of discrimination.” He said. “I think rugby is probably, from the sports I’ve seen, right up there in terms of integrity, respect and how they treat people. But I think it is important to never just assume that it’s always going to be that way.”
The RFU’s Speak Up Policy lays out its commitment to “developing a culture where it is safe and acceptable for everyone involved in rugby union to raise concerns about unacceptable practice, wrongdoing or misconduct.” The perfect way to raise concerns about racism is by walking off, as it will force all involved to take action.
As long as there is racism in one sport, there is a ‘racism problem in sport’, and Llenrumney’s players should be applauded for the actions they took in support of their teammate on Saturday.
By Will Sewell.