I understand that wasp concerns include having a Native American face depicted in profile on the Exeter club badge
Wasps have put pressure on Exeter’s use of Native American imagery in the Chiefs branding, gear and headgear of the Devon club’s fans by asking the Premiership and Rugby Football Union about English cultural appropriation Game to decide.
Wasps will meet Exeter at the Premiership in Coventry this Saturday, and on Tuesday the hometown club responded to a request from one of their fan groups to “check the wearing of false Native American headgear and other cultural symbols in our stadium.” . Wasps said they would not prohibit visitors from wearing such costumes, but they are aiming for a game-wide agreement on the issue, and a statement said, “We have therefore committed to Premiership Rugby, the RFU and the newly formed Diversity of the RFU and Inclusion Working Group to ask that this issue be officially addressed. “
I Understand that wasp concerns include the depiction of a Native American face in profile on the Exeter club crest that appears on first-team jerseys, and that “cultural signifiers” include the fez worn by some Saracen supporters. The next Premiership game from Wasps to Exeter is away at Saracens on October 24th.
However, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) says it has no authority to ask Exeter to change the branding. The RFU set up a Diversity & Inclusion working group in summer 2020 and announced an independent advisory group chaired by Ugo Monye in April of this year.
However, the RFU’s response indicated its limited powers: “The RFU encourages all clubs to carefully consider their role in further enhancing diversity and inclusion.
“Fan clothing is a club decision and we want to actively encourage clubs to connect with their fans and help provide historical context and education so fans can make informed decisions.”
Premiership rugby also indicated that no direct action is imminent. A spokesperson said: “Premiership Rugby is committed to working with our member clubs to make the league more inclusive and welcoming for everyone. There is a regular dialogue on issues affecting rugby and society at large and we will take the opportunity to discuss the issues raised so that clubs can share their views. “
The Exeter Chiefs for Change campaign group, made up of rugby fans, including six who support Exeter and three Native Americans living in the UK, collected more than 6,000 signatures for an initial petition against the club last year.
Exeter retired its “Big Chief” mascot shortly thereafter, but the branding remains on their jersey and Sandy Park Stadium, backed by an argument that the word “Chiefs” was used for decades for the West Country first team. Clubs was used and that “that [Exeter] felt that the use of the Chiefs logo was indeed very respectful. “
Saracens have worn a star-and-crescent badge for many years, and supporters’ wearing fezes became known from the late 1990s.
But the most common nicknames among Premiership clubs come from the animal kingdom.
Wasps noticed the recent changes in North America with the Washington Football Team, formerly known as the Redskins, and the Edmonton Eskimos who became the Edmonton Elks.
The club said Tuesday, “We took the time to consult with those who are more knowledgeable about this topic, including a number of outside stakeholders and members of the Native American community.
“Wasps are committed to putting equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of everything we do. This club and the wider rugby community are best when everyone involved in the game feels respected, included and supported.
“Recent events such as the Black Lives Matter movement, the ongoing racial abuse against high-profile sports stars and the increasing intolerance of LGBTQ + people have made it clear that diversity and inclusion are not just political, but human problems.”
The statement went on to say, “Respect for all cultures is a vital part of getting everyone involved in this amazing game. At Wasps, we believe that cultural appropriation, “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect that culture,” and therefore wearing false Native American headgear the potential offends and does not match our values.
“However, after consulting on this issue, it is clear that we need to achieve a sport-wide position to drive real change.”
Exeter Chiefs for Change welcomed the Wasps announcement, saying, “We welcome the news that the Wasps Rugby Club has asked the Premiership and the RFU to resolve the Exeter Chiefs-related offensive headgear issue.
“Rugby is one of the last areas to respond to this problem. Several American football, baseball, and ice hockey teams have banned them in recent years, and Glastonbury and many other festivals restricted them back in 2014, though the problem itself has been going on for much longer.
“Headgear (also known as war bonnets) has a great ceremonial meaning that is given to individuals in recognition of special achievements and honors. The Native Americans comprise over 500 different nations with different cultures, languages and more, only some of which use headdresses and each with their own distinct styles and customs disregarding their meaning and significance.
“It is encouraging to see this being approached together by English rugby to review this important area and to recognize that what is a problem for one club is a problem for everyone and the reputation and values of the game as a whole undermines the important message that rugby is ready to get involved and fight against racism and discrimination.
“This is an important step towards rugby that treats Native Americans with the same respect as everyone else, and we hope it will raise awareness of indigenous demands on all sports teams and brands, not mascoting their culture and abuse logos that uphold misleading and harmful stereotypes. “