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RFU reviewing use of slave song Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

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GimmeAy Fri 19-Jun-20 09:48:30

www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/53096584

Anyone recall this lively but good-natured discussion from earlier in the year? www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/3817800-Is-the-chosen-English-rugby-anthem-appropriate-do-you-think?pg=1

What do we all think now given the shift in attitudes to slavery and things associated with slavery? I think the attitude back in February was that it was ok, because it was initially sung in the context of rugby by a black player. BBC reporting that that player's nickname was Chariot which is why he sang it.

AIBU to be interested in whether our views have changed at all?

OP’s posts: |
HappydaysArehere Fri 19-Jun-20 10:22:32

I have always loved that song since we sang it at school in the fifties. Then I had a vague idea of its source but times were different and of course I was a child. Not a football fan so haven’t really thought about it in that context. It has emotion, beautiful words and a great tune. With everything going on I agree there are other songs like Ill never walk alone etc that can be used. We should always be aware of the feelings of other people and such a great song shouldn’t be sullied because of the context it is used in.

ClaudiaWankleman Fri 19-Jun-20 10:27:01

My attitude has changed. I am a big rugby fan and have happily sang it for years with no comprehension of its origin or context.

It's a beautiful song and I think that's why it is so popular. It sounds incredible when it bounces around a stadium. I agree with the PP who says that we shouldn't sully the song with the context in which we use it.

If the conclusion of that review is that it shouldn't be used anymore then I will support that. There are many issues in sport that are tackled by changing the behaviour of fans (homophobic chants in football for one) and it isn't a great pain to me to have one less song to sing if it widens participation and acceptance in our sport.

MockersMisguidedByTheScience Fri 19-Jun-20 10:39:34

BBC reporting that that player's nickname was Chariot which is why he sang it.

Completely wrong.

That player was Martin Offiah, known to his team-mates as 'Great Balls' and to the media as 'chariots.'

"Swing Low" dates back to England v Ireland in 1988, when Chris Oti, born to Nigerian parents, scored a hat-trick, and the crowd thought it amusing and/or appropriate to sing this song.

GimmeAy Fri 19-Jun-20 10:47:05

that player's nickname was Chariot

Completely wrong. ....known to his team-mates as 'Great Balls' and to the media as 'chariots.'

What's completely wrong? grin

OP’s posts: |
GimmeAy Fri 19-Jun-20 10:50:07

Did you read the article MockersMisguidedByTheScience ?

OP’s posts: |
GimmeAy Fri 19-Jun-20 10:54:37

Now that I think of it, there are very few Black rugby players - unless from Mauri heritage? Article says only 1 black member in the RFU.
It's good if this rather 'white' sport becomes more available to all cultures. I'm not sure about England, but in Ireland, rugby would traditionally be associated with boys schools in affluent areas of the country.

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TheLastSaola Fri 19-Jun-20 10:57:16

Martin Offiah never played rugby union for England - he was a rugby league player.

And yes, the use of Swing Low pre dates him, possibly to Chris Oti, but I've seen people disagree with that and say it predates him by a bit as well.

Really the debate goes down to cultural appropriation.

Personally I think criticism of appropriation is rubbish, unless there is intent to remove the original history. Cultures learn and borrow from one another, that's just how culture works.

But that's just my opinion, others disagree which I respect.

MockersMisguidedByTheScience Fri 19-Jun-20 10:59:47

What's completely wrong is the suggestion that Martin Offiah, an RL player, had anything to do with Swing Low Sweet Chariot in RU.

Loads of black players in the England squad these days:

TheLastSaola Fri 19-Jun-20 11:02:32

Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lewes, Jonathon Joseph, Anthony Watson - all current black players for England.

Plenty more playing in the Premiership and at youth levels.

Graciebobcat Fri 19-Jun-20 11:04:09

I always thought it was a bit weird to use a slave song, they are right to look into it I think.

mrsBtheparker Fri 19-Jun-20 11:05:01

Good luck with that one RFU! How will you stop the massed voices of Twickenham singing it?

SimonJT Fri 19-Jun-20 11:05:12

Offiah played rugby league, not union, a different sport.

I play rugby union, our club do not use the song, you’ll be hard pushed to find a rugby player who doesn’t know what the song is actually about and who doesn’t know why some clubs use it.

TheLastSaola Fri 19-Jun-20 11:06:04

Just seen that the BBC have re-written the article they posted this morning, in which they said that singing Swing Low started with Offiah.

Now saying that singing Chariots dates to the sixties but rose to prominence after Offiah played in the Middlesex Sevens in 1987.

derxa Fri 19-Jun-20 11:14:41

It's used to wind up other countries' teams especially Scotland in my mind. Just thinking about it makes me angry. Never mind the cultural appropriation. That's even worse.

CuriousaboutSamphire Fri 19-Jun-20 11:16:01

Oh lord! How many inaccuracies!?!?

Martin Offiah played both forms of rugby but was a league hero.

The song seems to be a bit like Dennis the Menace, used in praise of the 2 highest profile black players at the time! But if correct those who remember it for Martin "Chariots" Offiah are probably right.

My personal memories of it are from the 88 5 Nations, sung 'at' Oti.

Not sure there will be much support for getting rid of it, it isn't just the song, it's the missed words, the drinking game, the resonance of male voices singing low, Welsh male voice choirs all sorts of stuff! I don't think Twickenham will give it up easily! The lyrics, as applied to that one match, are oddly apt... a massive turnaround of England losing streak, bringing rugby home - as footballers would sort of say!

PicsInRed Fri 19-Jun-20 11:28:27

Now that I think of it, there are very few Black rugby players - unless from Mauri heritage? Article says only 1 black member in the RFU.

Do you mean Maori? There are a significant number of Maori and Pacific players/teams (including individual members of European teams).

GimmeAy Fri 19-Jun-20 11:55:17

Pics in Red - thanks for picking up on my spelling error. I'm sure I must have confused everyone with that terrible mistake. Your contribution has been very valuable to the discussion in hand.

TBH I don't give a shit who started singing it. It's origin is among black slaves. It's not appropriate in my mind to reduce it to bringing a trophy home.

OP’s posts: |
user1493494961 Fri 19-Jun-20 12:06:30

It's interesting to read what Trevor Phillips thinks about it.

Anamechanged Fri 19-Jun-20 12:14:50

Martin Offiah never played rugby union for England - he was a rugby league player.

He played both

MockersMisguidedByTheScience Fri 19-Jun-20 12:19:11

No Maori England players, but the Vunpolas (Tongan) and Tuilagi (Samoan) are Polynesian mercenaries

Swing Low has been noted as a real problem if the RWC ever went to North America.

L0bstersLass Fri 19-Jun-20 12:22:19

MockersMisguidedByTheScience

^BBC reporting that that player's nickname was Chariot which is why he sang it.^

Completely wrong.

That player was Martin Offiah, known to his team-mates as 'Great Balls' and to the media as 'chariots.'

"Swing Low" dates back to England v Ireland in 1988, when Chris Oti, born to Nigerian parents, scored a hat-trick, and the crowd thought it amusing and/or appropriate to sing this song.

You're out of date I'm afraid.
Has since been traced to Martin Offiah in 1987 which makes a lot more sense.

Video of him playing the in Middlesex 7s in below news article.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-51646140

MockersMisguidedByTheScience Fri 19-Jun-20 12:25:33

Martin Offiah never played RU for England. He played for Rosslyn Park at the Middx Sevens at Twickenham.

The origins of Swing Low as an England song originate with Chris Oti. The song was previously used by some clubs and schools.

NewNewt Fri 19-Jun-20 12:25:42

There are many BAME rugby players at junior and schools levels now. Thinking of my son and his u16 squad in South London they are the majority.

I think now is a good opportunity to get rid of any negative associations and stop the next generation of young people having to grow up with the normalisation of any of that nonsense.

billycat321 Fri 19-Jun-20 12:35:00

Oh for God's sake get over yourselves. Haven't we got enough to worry about at the moment? Ban 'Rule Britannia' because it might be seen to glorify British imperialism? Ban 'Abide with me' because it's about approaching death and might upset the depressed? Ban 'Flower of Scotland' because it dishonours the deaths of English soldiers at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314? Ban 'Jerusalem' because it might encourage the overthrow of the Isreali government?

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