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26th May 2022

Maro Itoje explains why he will no longer sing England rugby anthem

Reuben Pinder

Maro Itoje England

‘Swing low, sweet chariot’ is often sung at England rugby games

England rugby international Maro Itoje has revealed he will no longer sing the anthem ‘Swing low, sweet chariot’, which fans regularly sing in the stands.

The Rugby Football Union recently conducted a review of the song – whose origins have links to the American slave trade – and deemed that most supporters are unaware of the history behind the song.

It is believed that the song was first written in the 1860s by American slave Wallace Willis in relation to his experiences of the US slave trade at the time.

Itoje confirmed that he would no longer sing the anthem often heard at Twickenham

During an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe, Itoje confirmed that he would no longer sing along to the words, but stressed that he didn’t want to see it banned from games at Twickenham.

“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.”

Itoje has previously admitted to feeling uneasy about singing the song

The 27-year-old has previously voiced his discomfort when it came to singing the song during an interview with the Daily Mail in 2020.

“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone at Twickenham is singing it with malicious intent, but the background of that song is complicated,” Itoje said.

According to Ruckthe song was first sung at the home of English rugby, Twickenham, when Martin “Chariots” Offiah featured at the 1987 Middlesex Sevens tournament.

It didn’t become popular amongst England supporters until 1988, when Chris Oti scored a hat-trick against Ireland.

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