World Rugby welcomes UAR's continued investigation into xenophobic tweets

by Christy Doran

On the back of criticism for not doing enough to stamp out racism, World Rugby has welcomed news that the UAR will continue to undertake a full investigation into the social media comments attributed to members of the Pumas' national team, the governing body said on Tuesday.

The Tri Nations was rocked last week after xenophobic tweets from early last decade by three of the Pumas' senior players, including captain Pablo Matera, came to light. 

Matera, as well as Guido Petti and Santiago Socini, were stood down but just 48 hours it was announced by the UAR that they would be available for selection once again following the final Tri Nations Test against the Wallabies. In addition, Matera would continue as captain, Pumas head coach Mario Ledesma told reporters at his team announcement.

On Tuesday, World Rugby, who until now had been silent on the matter, said they were demanding answers.

"World Rugby is currently seeking a better understanding of the process being undertaken by the UAR and its status and looks forward to receiving a full update," a statement read.

The world union then reiterated its stance against any form of discrimination and support of inclusion.

"Clearly the comments, or any form of discrimination, are unacceptable and completely opposed to the strong, universal and inclusive values that the rugby family aspires to live and uphold," the statement continued.

"There is simply no place for them, and such behaviour rightly warrants full and appropriate investigation by the union.

"Rugby must continue to unite against racism through actions, not just words, set a positive example to society, and move forward strengthened by our inclusivity and diversity."

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont supported the statement in a tweet.

"Rugby must continue to unite against racism through actions, not just words, set a positive example to society, and move forward strengthened by our inclusivity and diversity," he wrote.

The statement comes just days after former England British and Irish Lions international turned pundit Ugo Monye slammed World Rugby for not doing enough to ensure the game was inclusive to everyone.

"It needs to do more, needs to," Monye told BT Sport.

"Pablo Matera ... I think the first tweet was, it's a good day to run over black people. When the UAR classify those comments as immature, they're just not doing enough, absolutely not doing enough.

"I'm sick to death of, I mean I love the campaigns, I love the gestures, but rugby wants to combat racism, until it has to combat racism, and this weekend I've just seen a litany of hypocrisy.

"I watched Argentina against Australia, every Autumn Nations Cup, we take a moment of silence and we read out this statement that rugby stands united against racism. Well, what's been done? What's been done since Pablo Matera brought those comments out?

"The UAR said it was imprudent, immature, they stripped him of the captaincy, they reinstated him 48 hours later (even though) the disciplinary process hasn't even finished.

"Where's World Rugby in all of this? They haven't said anything.

"The message it sends to me is that you don't care enough, you don't care enough, because this is our game but it's them who in control of it, so why have they not said anything, why have they not got alongside Argentina to get involved in the process? It's absolutely madness."

Monye, who previously hosted an entire episode on BBC's The Rugby Union Weekly Podcast on racism earlier this year, continued questioning rugby's efforts to tackle the issue when he compared the coverage dedicated by the press to on-field issues over off-field subjects such as rasism.

"I remember two months ago Owen Farrell, he tackled Charlie Atkinson and he got red carded. Owen Farrell was trending on Twitter for a weekend, everyone had an opinion, everyone wrote articles about it," Monye continued.

"Pablo Matera's one of most prominent players in international rugby and it hasn't even caused a ripple (in Europe). No one wants to talk about it, no one wants to own it, it's not even been acknowledged.

"This weekend's about diversity and inclusion, I'm sorry I just don't feel it, I just don't feel it. I'm sick of it."

Saturday's Test between the Wallabies and Argentina saw Australia wear their Indigenous jersey for the second time in 2020.

For the first time in Australian sporting history, an Indigenous language also featured in the Australian National Anthem.