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English rugby reviewing context behind national team anthem

LONDON (AP) — English rugby bosses are conducting a review of the “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” anthem regularly sung by supporters of the national team because of its links to slavery. The song has come under renewed focus during the recent growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has seen statues of historical figures being defaced or toppled and some institutions facing scrutiny.

“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” has been English rugby’s anthem since the late 1980s. It is believed to have been originally composed by a slave in the United States in the 19th century and its lyrics are emblazoned around England's national stadium, Twickenham.

England’s Rugby Football Union said it was “reviewing its historical context and our role in educating fans to make informed decisions.” “The RFU has stated we need to do more to achieve diversity and we are determined to accelerate change and grow awareness,” the governing body said in a statement.

“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 sensitivities.”

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