Former England captain Chris Robshaw has backed the Rugby Football Union’s review of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

The RFU is looking into the historical context of the Twickenham staple song, given ongoing focus amid Black Lives Matter protests.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said fans should not be banned from singing a song believed to have roots in American slavery.

Chris Robshaw captained England 43 times (Paul Harding/PA)
Chris Robshaw captained England 43 times (Paul Harding/PA)

Harlequins flanker Robshaw has admitted he was not aware of the song’s history, and insisted the RFU is right to examine its past.

“In all honesty I didn’t know the history of it,” he said.

“And I think it’s making people aware of things, aware of its past, and that’s always for the better.

“In terms of what’s going on, I’m fully supportive of the movement (Black Lives Matter).”

Robshaw will leave his sole club Quins and join Major League outfit San Diego in January 2021, with the American league season’s start date allowing him a farewell at The Stoop.

The coronavirus shutdown will see many players depart clubs without a traditional send-off, leaving the 34-year-old feeling fortunate to avoid that limbo.

While Premiership Rugby, clubs and players are all at tense loggerheads over the financial response to the pandemic, the timing of Robshaw’s move has kept him out of the firing line.

“I’m pretty pleased I’m going Stateside that’s all I can say!” Robshaw said.

“I’m one of the lucky ones. There’s a lot of people at clubs who won’t get the chance to wear their club shirts again.

“Because my season where I’m going next won’t start until January, that gives me a window.

“But of course if I’d gone to France or Japan, I might not have had that little bit of closure.

“Even though there won’t be crowds there, it’s allowing me that chance to finish that chapter of my life.

“Moving to America, there was still a good opportunity for me to venture abroad, myself and my wife have always wanted that chance, to have a new climate and environment.

“I’m born and raised in London, it’s all I’ve ever known and I’ve only ever played for Harlequins.

“And I’m sure at some point in the future we’ll come back this way. But while I can have the opportunity and while rugby can allow us that vehicle to try something new, why not?

“Finance hasn’t come into it. I’ve never made decisions in my career based on money. I wanted to try a new league, it’s new, it’s raw, there’s a bit of excitement to the unknown quantity.

“And it’s a completely different lifestyle. If I was going to leave one of the best cities in the world, southern California isn’t a bad place to go and live.

“I’ve been told to get the surfboard ready, so it will be a little different from Wandsworth, and the hustle and bustle of the Tube.”


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