Wed. Oct 20th, 2021
Exeter

  • Rivals Wasps critical of Chiefs’ ‘cultural appropriation’
  • Baxter: ‘I don’t think there’s anything for us to comment on’

Wed 13 Oct 2021 17.29 BST

The Exeter Chiefs director of rugby, Rob Baxter, has dismissed a statement by Wasps this week accusing the Devon club’s supporters of cultural appropriation by wearing Native American headdresses, saying he believes it is “a little bit of a non-story”.

Before the clubs meet in the Premiership on Saturday, Wasps released a statement on Tuesday saying they discourage supporters from wearing “faux Native American attire” at the Coventry Building Society Arena, because it “has the potential to cause offence and doesn’t align with our values”. Wasps also asked Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Football Union to consider a ban on the headdresses.

Speaking on Wednesday, Baxter said: “I don’t think there’s anything for us to say on another club’s statement that actually doesn’t do anything. They’ve made a statement, but said they’re not doing anything about it, so I don’t think there’s anything for us to comment on.

“Right here and now, when you see what’s really been in the news recently, the last six months … what the country is going through and things that are really important … For me, it’s a little bit of a non‑story.”

Asked if he and the Devon club were trying to engage with the debate, to understand why people may be offended by supporters wearing the costumes, Baxter said: “All I would do on that is just to refer you back to the initial statement we made, when this initially became something that we investigated in considerable depth.”

Last year an internal club review concluded the “Chiefs logo was in fact highly respectful”, pointing out the term Chiefs has a long history in rugby in the south-west. The club did retire the Big Chief club mascot but the refusal to drop the name and logo was decried as “tone deaf” by a fans’ group.

Wasps, in fifth, and sixth-placed Exeter will meet in the fifth round of the Premiership, both with 10 points and two wins on the board. Sam Simmonds, the England and British & Irish Lions back-row, made his first appearance of the season in the 42-5 victory against Worcester last Saturday, scoring twice, and Baxter says the match this Saturday will provide a benchmark of the squad’s intentions for the season.

“I said to the players this week, there’s two things you can do now: You can go: ‘Oh everything’s OK, we lost our first couple but we’re OK now, we’ve won a couple, we got a good score against Worcester, we’ve collected a few points and we’re drifting up the table again, and we can just have a breather’ – then probably a good Wasps team will come back and hurt us.

“Or we can say, right, this is an opportunity for us to keep putting our foot down and accelerate through the season: if we decide to go to Wasps to win, I think we’re likely to win; if we go to Wasps to see what will happen, we’ll create a lot of problems for ourselves.”

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Wizadclick | WAC MAG 2021