World News – US and UK rugby fans can continue to sing ‘Swing Low’ anthem despite its slave roots


England rugby fans will be able to continue singing their national team anthem which has its roots in American slavery

There will, however, be more education around the origins of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ as part of the Rugby Football Union’s commitment to enhance diversity and inclusion in sport

The song, which has been the anthem of English rugby since the late 1980s, received a resurgence of interest during the recent growth of the Black Lives Matter movement and the RFU decided to revise its « historical context »

« The RFU has said it will not ban ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ as it has a long standing place in rugby history, » the organization said on Thursday, announcing the results of its research

READ MORE: * UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson backs Swing Low, Sweet Chariot * Former England hooker Brian Moore says Swing Low, Sweet Chariot must go * The difficult connection between Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and rugby English * England rugby review using Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

« However, the union will use its social media and event audience to proactively educate fans about the song’s history and provenance, as well as to provide platforms for various voices in the game. »

England will return to play at the internationals this month for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak, and ahead of the first game – against the barbarians on October 25 – the RFU will release a short documentary on the history of the song The game is set to be played in an empty Twickenham, with fans banned due to coronavirus

The song is said to have been originally composed by a slave in the United States in the 19th century – the author credited is Wallace Willis, a freed slave from Oklahoma – and its lyrics are inscribed around the English National Stadium of Twickenham

The RFU said 74% of the 4,400 people it spoke to about the ‘rugby community’ as part of the study agreed that it was important for England Rugby ‘to actively educate fans about the origins of ‘Swing Low’ « About 69% of those polled said the song shouldn’t be banned, the organization said

Asked about the matter in June, UK rugby fan Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there shouldn’t be a ‘ban on singing this song’ and that he ‘would love’ to hear the lyrics in full

« No one, from what I understand, seems to know the words, » said Johnson « Before we start complaining about » Swing Low, Sweet Chariot « I’d like to know what the other words are « 

As part of its diversity and inclusion action plan, the RFU said it was targeting 30% women and 15% black, Asian and minority representation on its board of directors of by August 2022 at the latest

« RFU must step up efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in our game, » said Andy Cosslett, President of RFU

« We are living in difficult times, but that will not prevent us from seizing the opportunity to better reflect the society in which we live »

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, England national rugby union team, England

News from around the world – Rugby fans from USA and England can continue to sing the hymn « Swing Low » despite its roots of slavery


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