Sussex rugby player calls for end on casual racism

A Sussex rugby player says ‘more could be done’ in standing up to racism in the rugby world.

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 3:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th July 2020, 3:26 pm

Flavian Obiero has played for Plumpton RFC since 2016, and said the club is doing work behind the scenes to help educate people on racism.

But more rugby clubs need to do the same, he said, following the death of African American George Floyd and Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests taking place across the world.

The 29-year-old, who lives in Plumpton, East Sussex, said: “I have been following what has been happening around the world and seeing the BLM protests – some people agree with it and some people disagree with it.

Flavian Obiero playing rugby for Plumpton RFC

“Initially it threw me back a bit as I felt like I was always sheltered from any prejudice and racism. My stance was if any one was to get in my way I wouldn’t let them – I guess I used to black it out.

“But it made me think about what the rugby world could do to stand up to casual racism. There are not many black rugby players in Sussex and it is about educating people – more could be done.”

Flavian said he was subjected to cruel racism while playing rugby a few years ago.

“Plumpton was winning and I remember someone yelled something,” he said.

Flavian Obiero playing rugby for Plumpton RFC

“I scored and turned around and then someone shouted the ‘N’ word at me.

“I had mixed emotions – but I felt supported by my teammates.”

When Flavian is not playing rugby he is a farmer working on a pig unit. During his farming and agriculture career, he said he has been subjected to racism.

“Really friendly and hardworking people work in the farming industry but farmers are not really exposed to ethnic minorities,” said Flavian, adding: “But I have never let it hold me back – it usually goes in one ear and out the other.”

Flavian Obiero playing rugby for Plumpton RFC

He said rugby was getting more popular and should be available to everyone, adding that ‘we all need to be equal’.

Mark Llewellyn-Slade, chairman of Plumpton RFC, said: ”We are very proud of Flav for speaking out and support him 100 per cent. We, as a club, open our doors to all.

“We are a community club who supports those from our local community without exception, regardless of ethnicity or race, creed, gender, identity or privilege.”

“As a club we want to ensure we are transparent about this.

“Rugby Union is a community which allows us to bring unity and teamwork together. Given the recent events across the UK and abroad, our club has increased its efforts, through education and self-scrutiny, as part of our journey to demonstrate a wide open door policy of inclusion and equality for all.”

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