The RFU vows to eliminate racism from rugby after former England star Luther Burrell's revelations

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The RFU vows to learn and eliminate racism from rugby after former England star Luther Burrell’s shocking revelations on racist ‘banter’ about wearing shackles as a slave and ‘jokes’ about bananas and fried chicken

The Rugby Football Union has vowed to learn and eliminate racism from the sport after shocking revelations were made to Sportsmail by Luther Burrell, the former England centre.

Burrell, now 32, won 15 caps at international level. He has called for a shift in attitudes after witnessing jokes about slave shackles and bananas and hearing frequent use of the n-word.

His revelations in The Mail on Sunday have shocked the rugby world and yesterday (SUN), led both the RFU and Premiership Rugby to issue strong condemnation of Burrell’s experiences.

The RFU has vowed to eliminate racism from the sport after Luther Burrell's revelations

The RFU has vowed to eliminate racism from the sport after Luther Burrell’s revelations

Burrell met with Sportsmail to deliver a brave interview about racism in rugby union

Burrell met with Sportsmail to deliver a brave interview about racism in rugby union

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney and chairman Tom Ilube have both reached out to Burrell to offer their support, as has Premiership chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor.

‘We are disturbed this has been Luther’s experience and we applaud him for speaking out – racism in any walk of life is not acceptable,’ said Sweeney.

‘I have had a conversation with Luther to see if we can learn from his experience and possibly work with him as an advocate of change.

‘Inclusion and diversity are at the heart of our strategy and we want to improve education and awareness across our game. We apologise to Luther and all of those who have experienced any form of discrimination and will continue to work to eliminate it from our game.’

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney says the union 'applaud' Burrell for his bravery

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney says the union ‘applaud’ Burrell for his bravery 

RFU chairman Tom Ilube has reached out to Burrell to offer support following the news

RFU chairman Tom Ilube has reached out to Burrell to offer support following the news

Burrell has represented Leeds, Sale, Northampton and Newcastle in the Premiership as well as featuring in rugby league.

‘Things get said in jest without any thought,’ said Burrell. ‘Every week, every fortnight. Comments about bananas when you’re making a smoothie in the morning.

‘Comments about fried chicken when you’re out for dinner. I’ve heard things you wouldn’t expect to hear 20 years ago. We had a hot day at training and I told one of the lads to put on their factor 50. 

‘Someone came back and said, “You don’t need it, Luth, put your carrot oil on”. Then another lad jumps in and says, “No, no, no, he’ll need it for where his shackles were as a slave”.’ 

Burrell's bravery in speaking out about his awful experiences has been widely praised

Burrell’s bravery in speaking out about his awful experiences has been widely praised

Burrell’s bravery in speaking out about his awful experiences has been widely applauded and he hopes it can lead to change in the future.

Massie-Taylor added: ‘We applaud Luther for speaking out on this subject but it is saddening to hear some of the language and attitudes he has been exposed to.

‘I have spoken with Luther to apologise for what he has experienced and to offer support.

‘Whilst there is a lot of positive activity in the area of equality, diversity and inclusion this is a reminder of how far we still need to go.’

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