England rugby fans could be BANNED from singing the iconic 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' song because it originated among slaves in America 150 years ago
England rugby fans could soon be banned from singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot at matches because of the song's ties with slavery, it has emerged.
The iconic anthem which rings round the stands at Twickenham is being reviewed by the Rugby Football Union, which has launched a wide-ranging probe into racism.
Written by a black slave in the American South during the nineteenth century, the song was first belted out by supporters when two black wingers - Martin Offiah and Chris Oti - became sporting heroes on the pitch at the end of the 1980s.
The RFU announced its determination to 'accelerate change and grow awareness', but acknowledged how much of a battle cry the song is among passionate fans.
A spokesperson said: 'The Swing Low, Sweet Chariot song has long been part of the culture of rugby and is sung by many who have no awareness of its origins or its sensitivities.
'We are reviewing its historical context and our role in educating fans to make informed decisions.'
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, has become synonymous with English rugby - Twickenham itself is plastered with lyrics of the song, including the marketing mantra 'Carry Them Home'.
The song has often been covered and released as an official England World Cup song in the past.
It is thought to have been written by Wallace Willis, a Native American who before the Civil War was a slave in the Deep South.
One of the game's biggest stars Maro Itoje has already expressed doubts about the anthem.
In an exclusive interview with Sportsmail this week, he said: 'I don't think anyone at Twickenham is singing it with malicious intent, but the background of that song is complicated.'