Pablo Matera reinstated: Ugo Monye says ‘rugby doesn’t know how to deal with racism’

Pablo Matera was stripped of the Argentina captaincy on Tuesday and reinstated on Thursday

Former England wing Ugo Monye says “rugby doesn’t know how to deal with racism” after Pablo Matera was reinstated as Argentina captain.

Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino were suspended on Tuesday for racist comments posted on social media between 2011 and 2013.

But the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) reversed the decision two days later, describing the posts as “imprudent and immature”.

“I’ve been so frustrated,” Monye said.

He continued on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly: “It’s about how we deal with racism, full stop.

“Rugby doesn’t know how to deal with it, hence why we have seen a U-turn within 48 hours.

“Racism seems to be this outlier forever because no-one wants to own up to it. If you’ve got the union saying it’s immature, that’s what they think it is.

“Just so we are clear, [the comments] are not immature – they are racist and they are vile.”

‘I have no ill feeling towards Matera’

Matera, 27, who plays his club rugby for Stade Francais, has won 69 caps and led his side to a famous first victory over New Zealand on 14 November.

The flanker, lock Petti and hooker Socino had their social media accounts closed on Tuesday but screenshots of historical posts which disparaged black people and people from other South American nations circulated widely.

The UAR said the players’ apologies and good behaviour in the years since the posts meant their suspensions could be lifted, adding that the disciplinary process would continue.

The trio have not been named in the Pumas’ squad for this Saturday’s Tri-Nations Test against Australia in order to protect them after they received “a lot of hate” since the posts were discovered, said Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma.

Ugo Monye working for BT Sport
Ugo Monye, now a pundit, earned 14 England caps and toured with the British and Irish Lions

Monye added that he had no “ill feeling” towards Matera and that he had reached out to the Argentine on Instagram after seeing he was receiving abuse in response to the posts.

“For those people that have tweeted him and his family – shame on you too,” Monye continued.

“That is not how we move forward. It can’t be the solution. I don’t believe it’s right to deal with hate with hate. There has to be a better way.

“I wouldn’t want to be judged on the person I was eight years ago. I’m not saying that’s what we need to do with Pablo Matera.

“But I want it to be acknowledged. I want it to be dealt with in the appropriate fashion.

“[The UAR] are more interested in protecting their player than they are in dealing with the issue of racism which affects millions of people every single day.”

‘Rugby has two sets of values’

Since its return after a coronavirus-enforced break, rugby has shown its support at Premiership and international matches for combating discrimination in the sport.

England have marked the Rugby Against Racism campaign during moments of silence before each of their autumn Tests, with the majority of players taking a knee.

Bath prop Beno Obano said on Thursday rugby had become more “self-aware” since the death of American George Floyd at the hands of US police in May.

Monye said “rugby has two sets of values” and called for more education to bring about change.

“I talk about education all the time and having these conversations is really important,” he said.

“There is no guideline, there is no process. That’s why we keep going round and round.

“We will continue to do it until someone actually lives by their conviction and actually wants to live by rugby’s values.

“Rugby has two sets of values. The one it evangelises and uses to sell the game. The other one is the ones they feel comfortable with.

“They pick and choose as to when they hide behind them and when they use them.”


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