England Courtney Lawes wants rugby union racists named and humiliated | England rugby union team
England captain Courtney Lawes believes ‘unacceptable’ racist behavior must be eradicated from rugby and those responsible named and humiliated following shocking revelations last week by former team-mate Luther Burrell.
Lawes, who is only the second black player to captain the England men’s team, admitted he was shocked to read Burrell’s alarming testimony in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, in which he said that racism was prevalent in sport. Burrell said he was the victim of “racial jokes” by teammates, including comments about slavery, bananas and fried chicken and being called the N-word when greeted.
Lawes has revealed he experienced racism as a 16-year-old while at Northampton academy – who insisted the abuse Burrell suffered did not happen while he was there at the club – but hasn’t since and he doesn’t agree it’s plaguing the sport.
Burrell ended his two-year spell at Newcastle at the end of the season – the Falcons have since launched an internal investigation – while Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby have reached out and apologized. Burrell said he would “never name names” and chose to speak out about his experiences to bring about change, but subsequently the RFU came under pressure to take broader action.
“I read the article and was shocked by the things that were said to Luther because at most clubs – knowing the boys from different clubs who come to the English camp – it just wouldn’t be accepted,” said Lawes, who captains England. in Saturday’s first Test against Australia in Perth. “It’s not even a joke, that sort of thing. It’s way beyond that. I feel sorry for him and I don’t know what’s going on up there, but it’s absolutely not acceptable.
” I am with [Ellis] Genge – I think the person or people doing this needs to be exposed because it’s just not acceptable in our game. I had a problem with him saying that racism is rampant in rugby. If I’m being honest, that’s not my experience. But if this kind of thing is happening in certain clubs, it must be addressed. We have to crush that. We need to know what is happening and if it is happening in other clubs. We have to sort things out. »
Lawes was part of England’s most diverse World Cup squad in history in 2019, when more than a third of the 31-man squad were people of colour. Two years later, Tom Ilube was appointed president of the RFU, becoming the first black person to hold the post while the union established a diversity and inclusion advisory group in 2021.
But when asked if the sport could do more to improve its inclusiveness, Lawes added: “It’s about making the game accessible to everyone and if you do that you’ll see a lot of different and different types of people. colors of people playing the game It will be better for rugby as a whole and for society in general because we are all people We all bleed the same Most of the time you actually have a lot in common with people from different backgrounds.
“I think class is the main thing. We have loads of guys from private schools in Saints and, to be honest, I piss them off way more than they would the other way around! It’s just about providing opportunities for working-class children. If I hadn’t gone to Northampton School for Boys I would never have played rugby. So I was lucky and probably the same for Gengey and a few other boys who come from less wealthy backgrounds.
Lawes was confirmed as England captain on Thursday by Eddie Jones, who revealed Owen Farrell was “very unhappy” to be relieved of his duties. “We want people to be themselves in the team, don’t care about rugby all the time, or the selection all the time or ‘if I do that I’m not going to get picked or whatever’ one’s not going to like it,'” Lawes said. “We want people to be themselves around the team and therefore themselves on the pitch.”