Swing Low, Sweet Chariot: RFU to review the historical context of the England rugby anthem


The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has undertaken a review in the “historical context” of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, a favorite song among the supporters of England, which has roots in American slavery.

The song is regularly seen and heard at Twickenham, with his words reproduced on the walls of the stage and sang in the stands, and was a player of rugby union anthem for at least three decades.

Its full history goes back much further, but to his credited author Wallace Willis – a freed slave of the 19th Century Oklahoma.

It has become a popular spiritual in the early 20th Century and was popularized in new among the folk musicians during the civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Its current form as an anthem sports, to the story linked to Martin “Chariots” Offiah, is one that has come under the microscope before as a potential act of cultural appropriation. Current England star Maro Itoje said the Daily Mail this week, that he felt the line was “complicated”.

With the ongoing focus on the Black Lives Matters protests, the RFU has decided many who love the song do not know its history and stands ready to answer the question.

A spokesman said: “The RFU has said, we must do more to achieve diversity and we are determined to accelerate the growth and change of consciousness.

“The” Swing Low, Sweet Chariot song has long been a part of the culture of rugby union and is sung by many of those who have no awareness of its origins and sensibilities. We are reviewing its historical context and our role in the education of fans to make informed decisions.”

Genevieve Glover was recently appointed chairman of the board of directors of the diversity and inclusion of the implementation working group, with RFU chairman Bill Sweeney, saying: “We must do more to achieve diversity in all areas of the game, including the administration.

“We have undertaken some very good initiatives at the local level, to encourage more diverse participation, however that itself is not enough.”



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