England star Maro Itoje says Swing Low, Sweet Chariot makes him 'uncomfortable'

Source: 1News

England star Maro Itoje says the origins of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot make him uncomfortable, but he doesn’t believe it should be banned from being sung at Twickenham.

Maro Itoje of England during of the international rugby match between South Africa and England at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town on 23 June 2018 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

The London-born lock, who has Nigerian parents, said England fans needed to be educated on the origins of the song, which has become an anthem for English rugby fans.

“The context in which it was originally sung was with African American individuals to try and give them strength, give them hope,” he told the BBC’s Today programme

"What makes me uncomfortable was its introduction with it being sung for Martin Offiah, it being sung for Chris Oti, who are obviously two black players that played the game at Twickenham.”

Itoje’s comments came after the Rugby Football Union said last month it was undertaking a review into the song, which has roots in American slavery, amid the Black Lives Matter protests around the world.

“It is a great opportunity to educate people about the context of that song,” Itoje said.

“I am not too sure if banning works because you can’t regulate what comes out of people’s mouths but I think people should be educated about the background of the song and it will be down to any individual if they want to sing it or not.”