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Brilliant Itoje retort after UK minister mistakes him for Rashford

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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England and Lions second row Maro Itoje has posted a cutting response on social media after UK education minister Gavin Williamson confused the rugby player with Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford. The gaffe took place in an interview with the Evening Standard, who asked Williamson if he had ever met Rashford, the England footballer who has been campaigning hard to extend free school meals.  


Education minister Williamson responded: “We met over Zoom and he seemed incredibly engaged, compassionate and charming but then he had to shoot off. I didn’t want to be the one that was holding him back from his training.”

The trouble was that the Standard later reported that Williamson’s team had contacted them post-interview to admit that the politician hadn’t met the Mancunian-born Rashford and it was instead London-born Itoje that he had spoken with regarding the campaign during the pandemic to improve access to laptops and the internet for children unable to attend school.  

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Matt Dawson and Mike Brown on their favourite rugby memories
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On hearing about the minister’s confusion, England talisman Itoje tweeted: “Due to recent speculation I thought it was necessary to confirm that I am not Marcus Rashford… And whilst we are here my name is not Mario either!! Just a simple Maro Itoje will do… Much love, Marcu … I mean Maro Itoje.”

Tweeting a response to a post on the story by the Standard, Rashford wrote: “Accent could have been a giveaway.” Williamson tried to claim he had made a “genuine mistake” regarding the mix-up in identity, but it’s not the first time that a black England rugby player has had his identity mistaken.

It was summer 2020 when England teammates Ellis Genge and Lewis Ludlam twice had their images mixed up in the space of a month. There was quite an initial backlash when the BBC pictorially confused the two players and the same error then happened on the website of BT Sport, the channel that broadcasts the Gallagher Premiership in the UK. Teammates of the two players were in disbelief that the mistake kept happening, frequently pointing out that the pair don’t even look similar to each other. 


Genge tweeted at the time: “I’m actually f***ed off with this happening to every mixed race/black sportsperson. Must be the 15th time in less than a year just between me and Lewis Ludlam.”


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