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Glasgow Warriors take a stance on Exeter's 'faux headdress and Tomahawk chant'

By Paul Smith
Exeter Chiefs fan (Photo by PA)

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Glasgow Warriors have become the latest club to take a formal stance on the continued use of North American heritage by Exeter Chiefs and their fans.

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Ahead of the clubs’ Heineken Champions Cup meeting in Glasgow on Saturday evening Managing Director Al Kellock has issued a statement in which he calls on Exeter’s fans to ditch both headdresses and their ‘Tomahawk chop’ chant while in Scotstoun.

The statement reads: “Since it was announced in September that we’d play Exeter Chiefs in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, we have taken time to consider our position on travelling Exeter Chiefs supporters’ use of Native American dress and chants at our game at Scotstoun Stadium.

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“Following the pool stage draw, we set up a working group to understand and educate ourselves on this sensitive issue and gather the views of our supporters, representatives from the Native American community, the competition organisers, and Exeter Chiefs themselves. During this period, several supporters asked that we ban headdresses and the ‘Tomahawk Chop’, and in October the Scottish Rugby Blog wrote an open letter reiterating these calls.

“Today, Glasgow Warriors are asking visiting fans from Exeter Chiefs not to attend the game on Saturday with faux Native American headdresses or chant the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ during the match. We are making this request out of respect for the Native American community around the world, whose views on the use of their imagery and cultural heritage we support, and the Glasgow Warriors supporters who have called for us to act on this matter.

“Glasgow Warriors is a welcoming club, that celebrates inclusivity and diversity and by making this call for action we want to live up to these values and stand up for the views of our supporters.

“It is also important to acknowledge the branding journey that Exeter Chiefs themselves are on following their recent AGM, and for us to be considerate of that.

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“The club has informed Exeter Chiefs and European Professional Club Rugby of our request and has the full support of Scottish Rugby on taking this position.”

Exeter’s English Premiership rivals Wasps took a similar stance when the clubs met earlier in the season after which the Devon-based Chiefs, who adopted the name in 1999, have conducted an internal debate regarding their future branding.

The outcome of this meeting – which Exeter’s local paper Devon Live described as “underwhelming” – was non-committal. Their statement read:

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“After consulting and listening in depth to the membership of Exeter Rugby Club, the Board of Directors will now go away and further consult with its stakeholders, partners and professional advisors to decide what the club will do next in terms of the club’s branding. The board will be meeting within the next few weeks to come to a decision.”

In recent years, NFL outfit Washington Redskins have dropped their name and branding in the USA to become Washington Football Team while the Cleveland Indians baseball team will play next season as the Cleveland Guardians.

However MLB’s biggest prize – The World Series – was won by the Atlanta Braves earlier this year whose fan base, like Exeter’s, continue to do the Tomahawk Chop to rally their side.

More than 6,000 people have signed a petition calling for a rebranding of Exeter and America’s largest Native organisation, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), wrote to the Premiership outfit in November calling their current branding “offensive and harmful.”

 

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