Former Irish striker Neil Francis sacked after describing Marcus Smith as having ‘an Oompa-Loompa tan’ – .

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Former Irish striker Neil Francis sacked after describing Marcus Smith as having ‘an Oompa-Loompa tan’ – .


A Lions spokesperson said: “We find the remarks offensive and have written to Independent to express our deep dissatisfaction.

A statement from Smith’s club read: “The Harlequins are disgusted by the racist comments made by Independent.ie columnist Neil Francis on the newspaper’s rugby podcast, The Left Wing, on Harlequins, England and British and Irish Lions opener Marcus Smith.

The podcast was recorded shortly after Smith, 22, was called up by the Lions on the cover of Finn Russell.

He went on to play on his debut against the Stormers but was left out of the squad for Saturday’s first test in Cape Town.

Francis’ comments weren’t the first time the 57-year-old had courted controversy.

In 2018, the Irish press mediator ruled that Francis was “provocative” but not racist when he described the French as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” in a column about the Irish. Independent website.

Four years earlier, Francis had said in an interview on New radio: “If you’ve ever sat down with, you know, gay people and asked them what their interests are, a lot of times they don’t have any interest in any type of sport. It is my experience to sit with them; I have done this regularly.

South Africa ‘definitely’ joins Six Nations, says Sharks general manager

by Gavin Mairs, in Cape Town

The Springboks will “definitely” join the Six Nations following investment by private equity firm CVC in the championship, a senior South African administrator said.

The main South African teams have already agreed to join Pro 14 clubs next season to form the United Rugby Championship and it should be confirmed within the next two weeks that they will also take part in the European Challenge Cup next season, this who could see the Saracens firing against the Stormers, Bulls, Sharks, and Lions starting in December.

Ed Coetzee, general manager of the Sharks, promoted by Jay Z’s sports agency Roc Nation, believes that it is now inevitable that the Springboks will also look to Europe for their international competition.

This year’s rugby championship already looks doomed after an eight-week travel ban between Australia and New Zealand was imposed on Friday due to pandemic restrictions.

When asked if South Africa would join the Six Nations, Coetzee said: “I think it will definitely happen. I think if we asked them now they would say never.

“But if we had also asked them if we would play in Europe, they would have said never.

“So I think it’s a natural progression – it has to happen. I think there could be a promotion and a relegation. I think Georgia is pushing that hard and Italy has not been great.

“You have types of private equity, CVC, that go into rugby and they don’t come to lose money. They want commercially strong and scalable competitions – that makes perfect sense.

“The only thing we have in common with New Zealand and Australia is that we are in the southern hemisphere. It’s about a 15 hour drive to Sydney – how do you compete? “

The original plan for South African franchises was to join the European Champions Cup from 2022, but Coetzee has said they will now enter the Challenge Cup directly.

“It’s really exciting,” Coetzee added. “We want to achieve lasting success in Europe, that’s where we want to be. We have to earn the right to play there.

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