Show Racism the Red Card Wales, in partnership with the Welsh Rugby Union hosted an all staff WRU event at the Principality stadium which featured a presentation from the Campaign Manger for Wales on the work of Show Racism the Red Card followed by acting CEO Nigel Walker around the importance and commitment to anti-racism from the WRU. A panel of guests including, Gerald Cordle, Anthony Blades, Rafiuke Taylor, Robert Mota and Noor Omar with lived experience of racism within rugby in Wales.
The event was delivered as part of the Culture, Heritage and Sport funding for Show Racism the Red Card from Welsh Government through the Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan which incorporates anti-racism education for all staff and board members over 6 half day modules. The aim is to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to play their part in creating an anti-racist nation by 2030.
Robert Mota discussed his experiences of the N word and both refereeing and playing community rugby, he discussed the richness of Butetown also known as the docks in Cardiff and how that community there were all different nationalities, religions and cultures coming together but the scene was very different when the teams left the ‘docks’ and how they dealt with racism with their fists however reflecting that he’s educating his children the right way to tackle racism and that it comes from ignorance and education is key.
Anthony Blades talked of similar experiences of being carried off a pitch with a broken arm and the N word being screamed at him by the supporters of the other team, he discussed how during selections processes he would be disregarded although easily scoring more tries than anyone else in the trial. Anthony shared how his experiences means he or his wife accompany their children to every single sporting event to ensure they are subjected to the abuse or unfair treatment he was.
Rafiuke Taylor spoke about the negative impact racism has played in her career playing internationally for Wales in both rugby union and rugby league. The impact of a team selecting a captain that already had a racism charge that was due to go to court impacted her personally and forced her to leave the game she loved. Accountability and making a stance against racism is essential to ensure that everyone feels welcome and has a sense of belonging.
Gerald Cordle shared his experience of both overt and covert racism, his passion for Cardiff as a city but also as a rugby team “the best rugby team in the world” as Gerald described them. Gerald scored 166 tries in 194 games for Cardiff and still wasn’t selected to play for his home country Wales, this forced Gerald to seek pastures new in rugby league and he described how he moved up north to play for Bradford and within 9 months had been asked to represent both Wales and Great Britain.
Noor Omar was an apprentice at the WRU and was able to recall the racism he faced when attending festivals and events across Wales. “Racism wasn’t always name calling or verbal but at times you can see the looks and can see you’re the only Black person at the event.” Noor discussed the need for representation and how Black children would see him and instantly have a connection, navigating towards him as they don’t usually see anyone that looks like him at these events.
The room was in awe of the bravery it took for the panel to share their emotive experiences, feedback was incredible and really showcased the need for change within the WRU and wider rugby family across Wales.
Anthony Blades quoted “Events like the ones delivered by Show Racism the Red Card are so important in the education of an organisation from board members through to the most entry level employees.
By having many if not all employees witness firsthand the lived experience of racism, each individual can start to form a real understanding of how they can take personal responsibility to help tackle racism and many discriminatory issues.”
Dean Pymble, Campaign Manager for Wales described the event “The panel were incredibly brave today sharing their experiences of racism both within the WRU and in wider rugby. Having events where people and organisations can listen to individuals on the panels lived experiences to implement change and move forward to create an organisation that is truly inclusive and anti-racist is essential. Some of the panel spoke for the first time about their experiences within rugby to an large audience, it is incredibly difficult and emotive but working together we will make change and ensure that everyone no matter their background can reach their full potential in rugby.”