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Burrell gives update on RFU investigation into racism allegations

By Chris Jones
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former England centre Luther Burrell has revealed that an RFU investigation into racism in the sport is about to be released and he hopes the report will help other players avoid the problems he faced. The soon-to-be 35-year-old has chosen to continue his playing career in Japan and believes he leaves English rugby in a better place to deal with racism following his explosive revelations from a career that took him to Leeds, Sale, Northampton and Newcastle.

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Burrell lifted the lid on the alleged racism he faced when he told the Daily Mail: “Every week, every fortnight, comments about bananas when you are making a smoothie in the morning. Comments about fried chicken when you are out for dinner.

“I have heard things you wouldn’t expect to hear 20 years ago. We had a hot day at training and I told one of the lads to put on their factor 50. Someone came back and said, ‘You don’t need it, Luth, put your carrot oil on’.”

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Following the interview, the RFU asked Burrell to be part of the investigation which is understood to have also involved Newcastle. Burrell, who will face former club Northampton for the Barbarians on November 26, said: “The investigation is finished now but the RFU are now going into the report stage and I believe in a few weeks’ time potentially they will release something on what they believe is going on.

“How they decide to deal with it is up to them. For me, it is more about getting to the grassroots and academy levels so people can be authentic and respected.

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“It was never going to be a short process and they have spoken to a couple of hundred people and it hasn’t been a small process. I have been part of it and oversaw a few things and given statements when necessary. I have done it in a way that I don’t want to throw anyone or a club under the bus. I don’t think that is beneficial. I hope we create some structures for generational change to spread diversity and inclusion in areas less affluent.”

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Burrell admitted he was concerned about the incidents he highlighted but has been encouraged by the support he has received. “I was worried about how it would be received and, looking back, I am so happy I did it. When I was at Twickenham for the Argentina game an ex-England player said well done for speaking out.

“I was scared I would get some backlash but made sure I was prepared for any situation, but I knew what had happened. I didn’t want people to feel victimised. I want to create some generational change for my children and be themselves on the pitch.”

  • Tickets for Northampton Saints versus Barbarians at cinch Stadium Franklin’s Gardens on November 26 start from just £18 for adults and £5 for U18s. For more information, visit: www.northamptonsaints.co.uk/buytickets   

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