Swing Low under threat at Rugby

I don’t agree with this - I don’t see how adopting the song is insulting to those who sang it originally

however it will undoubtedly wind up all the right people

Erm wasn’t it originally a song about being freed from slavery?

It's a song about praying for death as an alternative to slavery 

I had always understood it to be a a spiritual sang by slaves.

Yes it’s a spiritual but with a meaning rather than just a bit of camp fire song.

Spirituals always have meaning, clue is in the name

My understanding is they tend to just have a religious meaning.

It was written by an ex slave about escaping from slavery. Last time it was banned was in 1930s Germany.

but - is anyone actually talking about banning it? Because in 99% of these cases nothing is being banned. 

It should be banned for being fucking boring

Lol @ barboured Mail readers claiming “we didn’t know”. Also Lol @ them looking at a song when there will be plenty of institutionally racist clubs and racist organisers up and down the green pastures.

Just ban England. That way you deal with boring songs, boring rugby and closet racist rugby bores in one swoop.

everyone knows it's a spiritual, not sure why that means it is a problem to sing it though? 

Isn’t it obvious why some people could justifiably see it as in bad taste or even disrespectful?

About time, frankly. Makes me cringe every time I hear it.

Fake news to wind up the scum no doubt.  Besides, anyone who's watched Star Wars knows perfectly well that striking something down only makes it stronger - ban it and fans will sing the damn thing non-stop for the full 80 minutes

An USA academic has criticised its singing at England matches as cultural appropriation. 

It's really all getting a bit daft - why don't these organisations/companies stop spending time on issues of virtue signalling and actually concentrate of issues of substance.

eg. How many of the RFU's  '57 old farts' are BAME? I'd guess none.

The only black coach I can recall in any senior position in English rugby is Paul Hull.

Let's all concentrate on the important stuff.

The point is that it is, and always has been, crashingly inappropriate for a fan base of mostly wealthy white English people to use a slave song as a rugby anthem.

Why can't they sing something that actually has something to do with either England or rugby?

African American music has influenced directly and indirectly much if not most contemporary music played by all races - are we going to start calling all this "cultural appropriation" too?  

African American music has influenced directly and indirectly much if not most contemporary music played by all races - are we going to start calling all this "cultural appropriation" too?  

African American music has influenced directly and indirectly much if not most contemporary music played by all races - are we going to start calling all this "cultural appropriation" too?  

Eh?  I am nearly always on the other side of this debate Pontefract what do you mean "as usual"?  On this occasion I think it is nonsense mind.

It's almost as if English rugby fans have no culture of their own so they have to steal the culture of a group of people who were trafficked to the Americas by the likes of Edward Colston instead.

It's also kind of ridiculous that they sing God Save The Queen when they're playing Scotland or Wales, but I guess that can't be helped.

They really really need to get some of their own songs, it's embarrassing.

What specifically do you think is nonsense about the reasons LP mentioned?

After you tell me what you mean by my "usual" whataboutery. Are you confusing me with somebody else?

We should just ask Martin 'Chariots' Offiah if he likes the song being sung or not, given it was he who inspired it's use in rugby.

This isn't something that's been sung at twickers for a hundred years.

The same “they’re talking about banning it” chat crops up every year about playing Delilah at Wales rugby games.

This isn't something that's been sung at twickers for a hundred years.

All the more reason to sing something else then. 

Can we establish if anyone who actually matters is offended first?

Hasn't been sung at Twickers for a hundred years? It is sung every game 

Personally I like supporters adopting random songs eg Stoke City "Delilah" West Ham "Blowing Bubbles".

I can see why some might find it "cringeworth" that England supporters sing an African American spiritual, personally I don't, but I don't see why anyone should find it offensive.    Many great songs are born out of hardship, doesn't mean it is disrespectful to sing them now.

Missed the point there ML. It has been sung since 87 onwards, not before. It isn't an historic rugby song with roots in the British Empire.

The only good thing about England fans singing "Swing Low" is that it gave rise to Wales fans singing "You Can Stick Your Fucking Chariot Up Your Arse".

Which I think we can all agree is a much better rugby song.

Methinks Lady P needs some education on racist behaviours...

Misread it LL, fair enough 

Swing low is a much better song than Bread of Heaven 


I thought the rugger lot just liked it for the rude actions they’ve always done to it and the fact it’s a drinking song. Then it got adopted nationally because the pipple are always right. 

Oh, and ‘under threat’?

It’s not a listed building. Unlike large parts of Norton Folgate, which thanks to Bodger were flattened by British Land this week. Ffs

We know this is preposterous. Everyone knows this is preposterous. I have observed no one being offended until an American academic decided that people should be offended.

And it is simply nonsense that it will keep being sung in stadiums regardless. Within months warnings will come over tannoys that offensive songs won’t be tolerated. People will start being identified on CCTV and will lose their jobs one by one as they are identified as a ‘racist Sweet Chariot singer’ by the Metro. 

Apparently started when Martin “Chariots” Offiah played his one game for England. 

Also interesting watching the Euro 96 reruns to hear it being sang at the England games there as well. 

Swing Low was adopted mostly as a drinking song, no - pre Martin Offiah?

It may or may not be culturally insensitive but it's also crap as a rugby song and sung by a bunch of braying, boorish, Tim nice-but-dims, in a dull stadium in a dull part of London that offers little but average pubs, an infrequent train service and the opportunity to go for a slash in someone's garden on the way out.

Compare the singing and atmosphere at the Millenium Stadium and then drone on with a Swwwwwwiiiiing Loooow and realise why it's so crap. It's up there with Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oy Oy Oy. At least the Kiwis have the self awareness to stay quiet during the game.     

Trouble is all the alternative national songs have imperialist roots.

At least you can confuse the Scots by asking what they’ll sing when they are a nation again.

Bread of Heaven is a Christian hymn, surely in bad taste to sing in support of a rugby team?

I don’t think Martin Offiah ever played union for England

singing it at league is probably life shortening

it was Chris oti, not Martin offia

btw Wales sing songs about stabbing a man so they can pipe down.(delilah)

I like the song, but can see why it may have to be banned.


i haven’t read this thread

but woteva rogermellie writes: not that

Isn't Flower of Scotland ultimately a repudiation of violence ("those days have passsed now, and in the past they shall remain")?


btw, I agree Cardiff has an excellent atmosphere, but the Welsh fans are rude and awful to the English fans in quite an intimidating way. I have never ever seen this at Twickenham

Wikipedia suggests:

- first known singing when Martin Offiah played in the Middlesex Sevens 1987

- sung the following year when Chris Oti scored a hat trick for England 1988

- there are reports of it being known by rugby teams as far back as the 1960s as part of a drinking game (inevitably), which is probably why they put 2 + 2 together when Offiah played

Make of that what you will

Rubbo the second verse is about rising up and being a nation again so not sure that’s anti-violence...

I’m not sure Martin ‘Chariots’ Offiah had acquired his nickname by then but it’s possible I suppose

@Summersails - it foreshadows Nicola Sturgeon leading a free Scotland to the promised land by democratic means.

Cardiff is eh spicy after an England international. I once had a night out in Bridgend after a 6N triple header, that was spicy

"I have observed no one being offended until an American academic decided that people should be offended."

How can anyone really say this sort of gobsh1te with a straight face - because it doesn't bother me, then, of course, it can't possibly bother anyone else???  Is that really how you think?  If so, I'm a bit sorry for you, but mostly very glad that I don't know people like you.

I'm no "rugger" fan, so I don't know why this has become an unofficial rugby anthem - perhaps there is some history that might explain it?

But, whatever, at the very least, it has always struck me as a really fvcking odd choice for anyone at all in 2020...  I can't actually think of any event in the US where it is sung, and I'm not sure that it is all that ubiquitous day to day even in African American society - I doubt if many African Americans would be particularly comfortable with bursting out a chorus of any "negro spiritual", cos it would, I imagine, feel really weird!

So, maybe (maybe) not offensive, but it certainly is odd and, as someone said above, really, really cringemaking.

I’d always assumed Offiah was reet proper northern but it turns out he’s from Ipswich. Surprised you can pay anybody enough to go and live in Widnes but they you go.

Guy you have a typical colonialist mentality that you can take other people's culture and use it as your own. Educate yourself and stop oppressing people with your song.

The issue about not taking offence before it’s pointed out you should is a very basic philosophical one around whether meaning is intrinsic or imposed by context. Yet another reason why people should be taught ethics basics from an early age, but no we can’t have kids being equipped with useful stuff can we? Parents know best, eh.

Typical southern privilege showing its ugly face there fencers. 

Well if the Nazi's band it, why shouldn't woke people ban it. They have the same ends, right? (/sarcasm)

1. Martian you need to wash your mouth out (with coffee) for drawing unfavourable comparisons between Bread of Heaven and Swing Low.

2. We Taffs are lucky in that we have the works of Max Boyce to draw upon as well as a splendid anthem.

3. Rubbo can you describe your night out in Bridgend in more detail please.

Bread of Heaven kicks the tits off Swing Low.

People are welcome to take my culture and appropriate it.

Indeed he is.

"And we were singing

Hymns and Arias

Land of my fathers

Ar hyd y nos"

I think the process should be something like:


  1. Ask some black rugby players (not white academics) and black spectators whether they like having Swing Low as an anthem (not whether they think it is racist or whatever - just do they like it?) 
  2. If the answer is < x% yes then it doesn't matter why, just proceed to replace it with something else.



It is such a weird song to have at the rugby, I’ve never really understood or liked it 

has anyone asked black rugby supporters/players what they think?

People are welcome to take my culture and appropriate it.

Nobody wants to.

More importantly has anyone asked *Chambers* what he thinks?

maggie alfonso doesn't think it sits well , so would say its gone.

FYI shes a very important and respected black former England captain

Of course not TC, they’re just happy to be included, you’re a forrin you must understand

Why does Welsh always look a massive typo?

Heh. Fuck rugby. I hope you’re all made to adopt Agadoo as an alternative.

I had Guide me O though great redeemer (“bread of heaven”) at my wedding. Didn’t think Jerusalem would sit that well with the majority Irish in attendance. 

Bento do you not even like league? If so you’ve committed the cardinal northern sin of referring to Union as Rugby. 

I lived directly opposite Headingley stadium for 8 years. I regret not going to watch cricket, but never once remotely intrigued by Rhinos or Carnegie or whateverthefucktheyrecallednow.

To be fair, most of the people who sing Jerusalem don't understand it at all.

Cruella - I’m glad you’re glad you don’t know people like me.

If people were offended by the song it would have been a talking point before the American academic raised it. But it wasn’t. So now we encourage people to be offended by something so that they can get offended and we can ban it?

To be honest I‘m not entirely sure what point you’re making. That people shouldn’t be singing it because it’s cringeworthy? I personally think the song is crap and hate rugby but I’m not sure of the relevance of that in the current debate. 

It’s like Little Britain being banned and people saying ‘well it was crap anyway’. 

At my wedding we had Jerusalem, bread of heaven, to be a pilgrim and dear Lord and father.

Sadly altho I had sourced an organ arrangement for Europe's The Final Countdown we were overruled by the god botherer and had to go with the bridal March.

Cultural appropriation is a dumb concept.  

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Are people going to stop using the English language?

How can you have an internet without a common interchange language (pace to Popper and the myth of the framework)?  Do we have to rewrite HTML, Ruby, C++ etc in Esperanto?

I think it's a boring song and a bit of a weird choice, but I have real issues with cultural appropriation arguments and this is no different.  People are free to sing whatever they want as long as it's not in some way unlawful (e.g. a clearly racist song).

If people were offended by the song it would have been a talking point before the American academic raised it. But it wasn’t. 

I've always had a problem with it, since the first time I heard England fans singing it. You can only really conclude that the people using it as a rugby anthem are completely pig ignorant about the history of the song or that they just don't care, neither of which are very flattering. 

I don't think it's racist BTW, just ignorant and tone deaf. 

cultural appropriation is a bad thing if it is used to insult or lampoon the original use (eg gammon use of the African American word "woke" as an insult)  or re-enforces negative stereotypes  but simply adopting something from another culture without more cannot, in my mind be, in-itself, a bad thing.

It's found its way in in classic, tone-deaf rugby clubhouse style, to be fair.  A drinking game, then sung at a player whose name sounds like you can put "chariots" in front of it, then another black player presumably just because he's...erm...also black.  With probably little or no consideration given to the lyrics or background of the song.  I'd still defend the right to sing it though, even though it's not my bag.

So just to check, Guy, you see no problem at all with a song originally sung by black slaves who were considered property to be bought and sold by European (including British) slave traders being adopted by am overwhelmingly white, wealthy, English fan base as an anthem to English dominance in sport? 

I dont think this is especially serious. I really hope not - because if extreme identity politics results in popular elements of ‘White Western’ culture and heritage being attacked and lost it will start (or tbh escalate) a culture war, which ultimately will not do anyone any favours.

I suspect also, that like with Brexit, those who consider themselves ‘progressive’ on this issue massively underestimate the strength of feeling outside their own circles. They will lose the culture war just as they lost Brexit. Everyone supports BLM etc as a woolly concept - who on Earth wouldnt? But when it actually starts to dismantle Western culture, defund the police etc it will soon become very unpopular. Its (yet another) open goal for the political Right - and we will end up with ever more rightwing govts and things will get worse not better.

Odd or not, I like Swing Low. So do lots of people. You cant take away something like that without triggering a reaction.



Classic Dom must be pissing himself. The most incompetent govt in history - and it will get away with it because the Left will be banging on about BLM. 

English sports fans must be the most polarised of all countries, they are either polite, self-effacing and good fun (most cricket fans and about half of rugby fans and a minority of football fans) or completely boorish, self-deluded and awful (the other half of rugby fans and most football fans).

Swing low fits into the latter half. The Barmy Army for cricket is the former. The people who play brass band instruments at football are definitely the latter.

I don’t agree with this


You fucking racist cunt