Local police are investigating an incident of racial abuse directed towards Dragons winger Ashton Hewitt on social media.
Following the 20-3 defeat to Scarlets on New Year’s Day, Hewitt posted a screenshot on his Twitter of an account that seemed to be making racist remarks about the 26-year-old.
Alongside the photo, Hewitt – who has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement – wrote: “This is what a Rugby fan somewhere (in Wales I think) wants me to see after a game. Pleaaase someone find out and tell me who it is.”
We were contacted by Dragons Rugby on Saturday, January 2, reporting offensive material published on social media in relation to one of their players.
Officers are investigating and have spoken to the player and the club.
Statement ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/pwdyBvbiWk
— Gwent Police (@gwentpolice) January 2, 2021
Dragons say they are “disgusted and appalled at an abhorrent racist post” and have contacted Gwent Police about the matter.
Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said on the force’s Twitter account: “We were contacted by Dragons Rugby on Saturday, January 2, reporting offensive material published on social media in relation to one of their players.
“Officers are investigating and have spoken to the player and the club.
“Gwent Police take any allegation of racism and discrimination extremely seriously. There is no place for hate crime in Gwent.
“We are committed to ensuring our communities are safe places and welcoming for all. Anyone with any information which could assist the investigation is asked to call us on 101.”
Thank you to everybody for the support, from supporters to teammates, my club and those of you that don’t know me – it’s encouraging and means a lot.
— Ashton Hewitt (@ashton_hewitt) January 2, 2021
The account that targeted Hewitt no longer exists.
Hewitt told Sky Sports News he was angry and frustrated at the abuse, adding: “I’ve got a little bit used to it following the protests and the Black Lives Matter stuff I’ve been pretty vocal on over the past few months.
“I’ve had quite a lot of abuse on social media and it’s been quite hard to deal with but this is the first time I’ve had it really in relation to a performance.
“It’s just hard. The only reason I’m having to face it is because I’ve been so vocal about racism on Twitter and it’s sort of made me a target.”
Dragons said in a statement on their website: “Dragons Rugby is disgusted and appalled at an abhorrent racist post on social media targeting Ashton Hewitt.
📝STATEMENT | Dragons Rugby is disgusted and appalled at an abhorrent racist post on social media yesterday evening targeting Ashton Hewitt… The matter has been reported by the region to the Police ⤵️
— Dragons (@dragonsrugby) January 2, 2021
“Dragons finds all forms of discriminatory behaviour totally unacceptable and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.
“The individual who expressed these views does not represent the values of our game. We thank supporters who have also condemned this post on social media and shown their support for Ashton.
“Dragons take all reports of hate crime extremely seriously. Such behaviour has no place online, in our stadium, in our community or in our game.
“We firmly stand behind Ashton and continue to fully support his outstanding efforts when trying to eradicate racial prejudice wherever it exists. This is a constant battle for Ashton and the region recognises how difficult the past few months have been for him.”