England: RFU open investigation following Luther Burrell’s racism allegations

·3-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney has confirmed that they have begun an investigation to discover the extent of racism within the game.

It comes after Luther Burrell alleged that he had been subjected to racist “banter” during his career, stating that it is rife in the sport.

The RFU and Premiership Rugby have both apologised to Burrell while an investigation is already underway at his most recent club Newcastle.

Sweeney has met with the former England centre and has stated that he will be involved in the process.

Important to speak up

“It is very important and good for Luther to speak up,” the RFU’s CEO said. “He has been very open, very transparent. He’s explaining and telling us his feelings and his views in terms of what has happened.

“In terms of two tangible things coming out of that, we’ve reached an agreement with Newcastle in terms of what we have to do in there and to do the right appropriate independent review of what has happened there.

“That is the first stage. And he is fully involved in that, he is aware of all of that.

“And then, secondly, we are setting up – I don’t have the right word for it right now – but it is basically a means and a process jointly with the RPA and with PRL to go out to the broader professional game and create the right environment for people to be able to feed back in their views.

“I think it is important to go through that because until you go through that, you don’t know, you don’t get your arms around the extent of the issue.”

Last month, Burrell revealed the type of remarks he had been subjected to, receiving comments about bananas, slavery and fried chicken.

“I think Ellis (Genge) spoke, before the Australia match, and said that in his perception he didn’t feel that racism is rife,” Sweeney said.

“But then how do you define that? And what is the extent of the issue we need to address?

“Is it ignorant banter that may have been acceptable years ago but no longer is? Does that lead you down an education route in terms of what is acceptable in this day and age and what isn’t?

“So we are in that stage now, and Luther is involved in that second phase as well, so he will be part of that process.”

Racism in English cricket

Sweeney believes that it is important to learn the lessons from English cricket’s racism scandal, which saw seven people charged following allegations made by ex-Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq.

“After the Yorkshire situation – and I don’t want to critique another sport – we said, ‘let’s test our processes if we had a similar situation’,” he said.

“How would we have handled that? We had a different mechanism in place to deal with that.

“The reaction to Luther’s comments was instantaneous in terms of ‘how do we work with Luther and others to find solutions?’.

“You can never be complacent but it’s very high on our radar. We’ve got to make sure we’ve got the right systems and the right approach to manage them.”

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The article England: RFU open investigation following Luther Burrell’s racism allegations appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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