Why, why, why? Welsh rugby bosses ban choir from singing Delilah at rugby internationals because of its woman-killing lyrics as union is engulfed in sexism storm
- Popular Tom Jones song has become an unofficial anthem for Welsh rugby fans
- But Delilah will not feature on playlist for Wales’ upcoming Six Nations fixtures
Welsh rugby bosses have banned its choir from singing Delilah at international due to its controversial lyrics about a lover stabbing a woman.
The popular Tom Jones ballad has become an unofficial anthem for Welsh rugby fans prior to matches at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, but Delilah will not feature on the playlist for Wales’ upcoming Six Nations fixtures.
Released in 1968 before reaching number two in the British charts, Delilah tells of an opportunistic killing by a man who waits until his former partner’s lover leaves her home before making his move.
Its lyrics say: ‘At break of day when that man drove away, I was waiting. I cross the street to her house and she opened the door. She stood there laughing… I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more.’
The popular Tom Jones ballad has become an unofficial anthem for Welsh rugby fans (pictured)
Sir Tom Jones performs on stage during Music For The Marsden 2020 at The O2 Arena in London
The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) later adopted the song and would play it over loudspeakers for fans filling the Millennium Stadium, along with displaying the lyrics on giant screens.
And earlier this week, footage emerged of the Guernsey Welsh male voice choir rehearsing the song ahead of Wales’ Six Nations clash with England on February 25.
The lyrics to Sir Tom Jones’ ballad Delilah
I saw the light on the night that I passed by her window
I saw the flickering shadows of love on her blind
She was my woman
As she deceived me I watched and went out of my mind
My, my, my, Delilah
Why, why, why, Delilah
I could see that girl was no good for me
But I was lost like a slave that no man could free
At break of day when that man drove away, I was waiting
I cross the street to her house and she opened the door
She stood there laughing
I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more
My, my, my Delilah
Why, why, why Delilah
So before they come to break down the door
Forgive me Delilah I just couldn’t take any more
However, the WRU has now reportedly instructed the choir to refrain from performing it, The Telegraph reports.
A spokesperson for the stadium said: ‘Delilah will not feature on the playlist for choirs for rugby internationals at Principality Stadium.
‘The WRU removed the song from its half-time entertainment and music play list during international matches in 2015.
‘Guest choirs have also more recently been requested not to feature the song during their pre-match performances and throughout games.
‘The WRU condemns domestic violence of any kind. We have previously sought advice from subject matter experts on the issue of censoring the song and we are respectfully aware that it is problematic and upsetting to some supporters because of its subject matter.’
It comes as the WRU is facing allegations of a toxic sexism and discrimination culture after a series of concerning incidents, including one employee declaring he wanted to ‘rape’ another.
A number of ex-WRU employees have taken part in an investigation making accusations about their time at the governing body.
Charlotte Wathan, general manager of women’s rugby until her resignation last February, claims the offensive comments by a colleague left her in tears and feeling sick.
Another unnamed contributor says she was left contemplating suicide by her experiences of bullying and sexism at work.
Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding Delilah is a long-running issue, with a campaign launched back in 2014 to ban it from Welsh rugby matches.
Welsh singer and former Plaid Cymru president Dafydd Iwan led the calls, describing the song as ‘a song about murder’ that does tend to ‘trivialise the idea of murdering a woman’.
Despite the debate, Jones performed his song at the stadium last summer.
Defending the ballad, he said: ‘It’s not political, it’s about a man just losing it. I love to hear it sung… it makes me very proud to be Welsh.
‘The great thing about the song I think that everyone picks up on is the chorus, I don’t think that they are really thinking about it.
‘I wasn’t thinking that I was the man that was killing the girl when I was singing the song, I was acting out the part and that’s what the song is.
‘If it’s a going to be taken literally like that then I think it takes the fun out of it, I think it takes the spirit out why it’s being sung.’
In a statement in 2014, the WRU also said there was ‘plenty of precedent in art and literature’ for such lyrics and referred to ‘Shakespearean tragedies’.
Chris Bryant, Labour MP and chair of the Committees on Standards and Privileges, also joined calls to halt the anthem.
Speaking in 2016, he said: ‘It is a simple fact that when there are big international rugby matches on, and sometimes football matches as well, the number of domestic violence incidents rises dramatically.
Welsh rugby supporters pictured singing ahead of their match against Italy at Principality Stadium on March 19 last year
Delilah will reportedly not feature on the playlist for Wales’ upcoming Six Nations fixtures, beginning later this month
Tom Jones pictured during a performance at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on July 27, 2021
The controversy is a long-running issue, with a campaign launched back in 2014 to ban it from Welsh rugby matches
‘I know that some people will say, “Oh, here we go, he’s a terrible spoilsport,” but the truth is that song is about the murder of a prostitute.
‘It goes right to the heart of the issues we are discussing. There are thousands of other songs we could sing.’
Stoke City football fans also sing the anthem prior to games, but have insisted they will not give it up.
It comes after Englanf rugby fans faced a ban from singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot at matches.
The RFU subsequently began a review into the ‘historical context’ of the popular song, which has roots in American slavery, amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
Written by a black slave in the American South during the nineteenth century, the song was first belted out by supporters when two black wingers – Martin Offiah and Chris Oti – became sporting heroes on the pitch at the end of the 1980s.
But in a statement released in October 2020, the RFU said it was resisting calls for the ban and would use its social media and event audiences to ‘proactively educate fans on the history and provenance of the song’.
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