England Rugby Team Drops ‘Saxons’ Nickname to Reflect ‘Diversity in Society’

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The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has dropped the nickname “Saxons” for one of the top England teams following a Black Lives Matter-inspired diversity review into the sport.

England’s second team, which has been referred to as the “Saxons” since 2006, will have its name changed back to the old “England A” team when they face off against Scotland A in Leicester in June, in order “to reflect the diversity in society”.

Announcing their decision to scrap the “inappropriate” nickname, an RFU spokesman told The Times: “We have chosen to revert to the traditional name of ‘England A’ for this fixture against ‘Scotland A’ as a better representation of our team today.”

One of England’s top all-time try-scorers, Martin Offiah, supported the move but said that it should be accompanied by “something more substantial”.

The British-born Nigerian heritage Hall of Fame rugby player explained: “Adding names like Saxons probably was a bit misguided. It’s a gesture that we’re going in the right direction but gestures need to have something more substantial behind it.

“Are we going to see a black coach of the England rugby union team, more black board members? How many black people are involved in the commercial department? Those are the conversations we need to have.”

The decision to scrap the “Saxons” nickname comes after the union conducted a Black Lives Matter-inspired review of the use of the song ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ because of its links to slavery in the United States.

The song was penned by freed Oklahoma slave Wallace Willice following the American Civil War and has since become associated with black gospel music in America. British rugby fans picked up the tune after a come-from-behind victory over Ireland in 1988.

England player Maro Itoge said that the song made him uncomfortable, saying: “It’s really important that we get this right so that anyone from anywhere feels rugby is a game for them. There is a wealth of experience in the advisory group and we’re all pleased to be able to contribute in driving an important agenda within the sport.”

The infamously woke Prince Harry, a patron of the Rugby Football Union, backed the call to ban the song from England rugby matches last June.

While ‘Swing Low’ has not officially been banned, the RFU has encouraged fans to refrain from singing it while embarking upon a role in “educating” the fanbase on the song’s origins.

As seen in American sports, rugby teams in Britain have also opened many matches with the symbolic BLM-approved ‘taking the knee’ gesture.

However, some teams have begun to buck the trend, including the ‘no-kneeling’ Welsh team that defeated the ‘kneeling’ England team in the Six Nations rugby tournament in February.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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