Former England hooker and media pundit Brian Moore has weighed in heavily on the heated Swing Low, Sweet Chariot debate, claiming that “it’s crap as a national song” because it has no relevance to the English and should no longer be sung at matches. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Written in the mid-19th century by Wallace Willis, who was a black American slave, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is an anthem for England rugby fans, but the RFU now wants to help raise awareness and educate fans about the song’s origins.

It comes following the growing awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement in UK sports in recent weeks. After the RFU admitted the song was now under review, a lively discussion has ensued about whether it should be banned from being sung at Twickenham. 

Video Spacer

Video Spacer
Premiership referee JP Doyle guests on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series

Moore, whose 64-cap England career stretched from 1987 to 1995, outlined his thoughts about Swing Low, Sweet Chariot on Twitter, addressing what he believes to be the apocryphal story about the song.

It is commonly believed that that the use of the song at Twickenham relates to Chris Oti, a black ex-England player who scored a Five Nations try hat-trick in 1988, or Martin Offiah’s appearance at the Middlesex Sevens in 1987, as a play on his nickname ‘Chariots Offiah’.  

Moore concluded that his preference would be for the RFU to ban the song. “It can go for me; I hate it,” he said.

Offiah also commented on the debate when speaking to BBC 5 Live, saying: “I champion the RFU reviewing it, I wouldn’t support the banning of such a song. When you do try to ban things like that it just makes the song more divisive.

ADVERTISEMENT

“If this review leads to the RFU putting a positive spin on this song, engaging with ethnic communities, looking at the rooms where decisions are made in the RFU and addressing those issues, that’s what we actually want.”

The debate went right to the top politically in England on Friday with Prime Minister Boris Johnson stating people should not be prohibited from singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot at England rugby matches.

He said: “I certainly don’t think there should be any prohibition on singing that song.” He explained that people from ethnic minority backgrounds should not face “unfairness” in any area of life, but that there should be less focus on “the symbols of discrimination”.

ADVERTISEMENT

 

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now