Page last updated at 22:03 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 23:03 UK

Ex-England coach Best in race row

Dick Best
Dick Best turned to journalism after a high-profile coaching career

Former England rugby coach Dick Best has come under fire from anti-racism campaigners for an on-air remark about a black player.

In a Sky Sports News interview, he was asked about his hypothetical British and Irish Lions pick of Delon Armitage, ahead of Ireland's Tommy Bowe.

"You have always got to have a coloured boy in the team," Mr Best said.

Sky apologised for airing the remark, which was criticised by equality group Kick It Out. Mr Best has not commented.

'Quota system'

Sky Sports News presenter Millie Clode said later: "Best made remarks that he thought were off-camera.

"We would like to apologise for any offence this may have caused."

Piara Powar, director of Kick it Out, an equality and inclusion campaign, said: "Racial stereotyping affects us all, and for many of us it seems to affect the pattern of our lives from the day we are born until the day we die.

"It may well be that Dick Best said what he said as an appreciation of what black players can bring to the game of rugby union.

"But we should firstly knock down the idea that there is some form of quota system in place for picking players, and secondly refute the idea that one ethnic group is inherently better at sport than any other."

'Inclusive sport'

The official squad for the Lions summer tour of South Africa was announced shortly after the interview with Mr Best.

The England number 15, Delon Armitage, was a surprise omission.

Dick Best was a coach on the 1993 Lions tour to New Zealand, England coach and director of rugby at London Irish. He is now a journalist.

A Rugby Football Union spokesman said: "Rugby Union is an inclusive sport which does not tolerate harassment, abuse or discrimination based on race, colour, creed, sex or sexual orientation, disability or any other form of behaviour which is unfair, demeaning or intolerant.

"Players and spectators are expected to show respect to all other people in the sport and any form of demeaning, unfair or intolerant abuse is prohibited."



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