England star Maro Itoje has stated he will no longer sing English rugby’s famous ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ anthem, according to a report by French newspaper L’Equipe.
The famous chant is often heard ringing around Twickenham or abroad whenever the England team is playing in front of a large supporter base and it has become a symbolic song for rallying the side or celebrating on-field success.
Speaking with L’Equipe, the 27-year-old lock says he will ‘not sing it anymore’ in a personal stand after learning of the origins of the song. He had previously gone on record with his unease about it two years ago.
“I’m not going to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do but, personally, I won’t sing this song anymore,” he said. “I sang it before when I was naive and didn’t know its origins but, knowing now the context in the creation of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, it’s not an anthem that I’m going to repeat anymore.”
The anthem is believed to have been written by an American slave about the hopes of finding peace in the afterlife. Itoje gave an interview in 2020 to the Daily Mail on race and racism issues where he first spoke about England’s ‘complicated’ rugby anthem.
In 2020, the RFU underwent a review of the song and decided to remove the lyrics from being officially endorsed around the stadium on match day or in memorabilia, but stopped short of banning fans from singing it.