Northampton Saints say Luther Burrell racist abuse did not happen during his time with club

·2 min read
Luther Burrell of Northampton breaks with the ball during the Aviva Premiership match between Northampton Saints and Gloucester Rugby at Franklin's Gardens on January 6, 2018 in Northampton, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Luther Burrell of Northampton breaks with the ball during the Aviva Premiership match between Northampton Saints and Gloucester Rugby at Franklin's Gardens on January 6, 2018 in Northampton, England. - GETTY IMAGES

Northampton Saints have confirmed that the racist abuse that Luther Burrell revealed he experienced at the hands of past team-mates did not take place during his seven years at the club.

In an extraordinarily candid interview with the Mail on Sunday last weekend, Burrell said that racism was “rife” in English rugby union.

The 32-year-old centre, currently without a club after being released by Newcastle Falcons at the end of last season, recalled players joking about slavery and remembered being called a "n-----".

On Monday evening, Northampton, whom Burrell played for between 2012 and 2019 prior to a short stint with Warrington Wolves in rugby league, released a statement on behalf of their chief executive, Mark Darbon.

“Everyone at Northampton Saints was saddened and appalled to read Luther Burrell’s comments published yesterday, detailing the racist abuse he has experienced during his playing career,” Darbon said.

“The club condemns all forms of discrimination, and yesterday reached out to Luther to offer our support and applaud his bravery in speaking out.

“We were reassured during our conversation that Luther did not experience any racial abuse during his time at Northampton Saints. The club will continue its ongoing work to make sure that Franklin’s Gardens remains an inclusive environment for all Northampton players, staff and supporters.

“We have invited Luther to return to Franklin’s Gardens in the coming months to contribute towards the diversity and inclusion projects already being delivered by the club’s community and commercial staff.

“Saints will welcome and support any wider action taken by the RFU and Premiership Rugby to improve education and awareness across rugby union, so that we can eradicate discrimination from our game.”

While it did not name any perpetrators, The Mail on Sunday interview also detailed a racist WhatsApp conversation between players that had been witnessed by Burrell.

Newcastle have promised “a full internal investigation”, while Burrell previously represented Leeds and Sale Sharks before his Northampton stint.

“Following Luther Burrell speaking out over the weekend about his experiences throughout his long and distinguished career Newcastle Falcons wishes to stress that it is determined to ensure our club is a welcoming and fully inclusive environment for everyone,” read a statement issued by Newcastle Falcons.

“There is no place for racism in rugby, sport or any walk of life. We have spoken to Luther to offer our full support, and we are committed to determining whether any of the occasions he references took place during his time at Newcastle Falcons as part of a full internal investigation.”

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