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Australian commentator criticised gaff

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Australian commentator criticised for racially insensitive on-air gaff

A commentator on Australian national television has been criticised for his use of outdated terminology to describe a player’s haircut.

The Wallabies lost 38-13 to New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup opener at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Saturday night in front of an impressive 66,318 fans.

Channel Ten’s experienced commentator Gordon Bray appears to have stepped in it however, with an on-air gaff that has earned plenty of criticism online.

Bray referred to the new haircut of Wallaby hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, saying he didn’t recognise him without his trademark ‘Golliwog hairstyle’.

The term didn’t go unnoticed online.

Bray, who has described by some as the voice of Australian rugby, apologised for the gaff, saying he meant no offence.

Bray told the Fairfax Media in Australia that: “It was made in an affectionate manner and it was not intended to be offensive in any way,” he said.

“It was something I said on the spur of the moment. I almost didn’t recognise him with the short back and sides do and the inference was that it had been very fuzzy. Probably if I’d said what happened to his ‘fuzzy-wuzzy’ haircut that would have been more appropriate.”

“I know the guy, I have great respect for him. When he played at Suncorp Stadium [last year] he had that massive hair and so I was saying it was hard to recognise him with the new haircut.”

The ‘Golliwog’ was originally a character in a 19th-century children’s fiction book who presented a stereotypical vision of Africans. The character was later made into a doll, which became popular across Western Europe in the 20th century, before becoming passe, largely due to the perceived racist overtones inherent in the figure.

Australian commentators have some form in this area. Earlier in the summer Phil Kearns was criticised for his odd description of what Irish players might be saying to each other on the field.

Kearns – who is known for his outspoken commentary – made the comments during a pause in play in the 47th minute of Ireland’s third test victory at Allianz Park in June.

Kearns appeared to be frustrated at the amount of time Ireland were taking before a scrum, a practice the former Wallaby felt the referee should have stepped in on.

He then said: “Fiddle-a-dee, Fiddle-a-dee, Fiddle-a-dee, potato…out the back there having their own little chat.”

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Australian commentator criticised for racially insensitive on-air gaff