Rugby union ‘can’t isolate itself’ from racism


David Rose has officiated in more than 100 Premiership Rugby matches

Former Premiership referee David Rose says rugby union “can’t isolate itself” from racism after former England international Ugo Monye alleged he was racially abused at Exeter Chiefs.

Rose, who refereed more than 100 top-flight matches and still works as a television match official, says rugby union must ensure it tackles racism.

“I don’t think rugby can isolate itself from what goes on in society,” he told BBC South West.

“Every sport would argue that its got its values that are similar to rugby’s, and they talk about them a lot.

“Rugby can’t isolate itself from what goes on in the rest of the world and just live in an echo chamber that says, ‘because it’s rugby we don’t have these sorts of people expressing views that are discriminatory in nature’,” he added.

“You’ve only got to look across social media, and you’ll see views that are used like this.

“We can’t live in a bubble to think this doesn’t happen, and people like that aren’t within our sport.”

Devon and Cornwall Police said they were investigating Monye’s claims, as are Exeter, while the Rugby Football Union (RFU) described the former England and British Lions back “as a great champion of rugby, inclusion, and diversity”.

Rose has welcomed the efforts to find the alleged perpetrator and the messages of support that Monye has received.

But he echoed Monye’s concerns that “not a single person said a word, challenged or even reported it”.

“This person felt emboldened in whatever way to say what they said to a high-profile individual and clearly felt they could get away with it,” Rose said.

“That’s the more disturbing thing – the fact they felt they could get away with it and felt confident enough to do it in that environment.

“That, for me, is more troubling and is not that reassuring in terms of what those messages might portray in being supportive towards Ugo, because you would expect that from most right-minded people. The kind of response you would expect is for people to be supportive of him and condemn the remarks made by whoever it was that made them.”

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