23 July 2021

Harlequins ‘disgusted’ over comment from Neil Francis about Marcus Smith

23 July 2021

Harlequins say they are “disgusted” by a comment made by former Ireland international Neil Francis about British and Irish Lions fly-half Marcus Smith.

Francis, working as a pundit for the Irish Independent’s The Left Wing podcast, made an apparently racist remark about Smith, who is of mixed British and Filipino heritage and was born in Manila.

“A Harlequins out-half with a David Beckham haircut and an Oompa Loompa tan…you just couldn’t throw him in,” said Francis, who won 36 caps for Ireland from 1987-1996.

Quins said in a statement: “Harlequins is disgusted by racist comments made by Independent.ie columnist Neil Francis on the paper’s rugby podcast, The Left Wing, about Harlequins, England and British and Irish Lions fly-half Marcus Smith on July 14.

“The club firmly believes that there is no room for racism in any part of society, let alone professional sport.”

Former Quins star Ugo Monye, a former Lions and England wing, hit back at Francis on social media.

“The fact Neil Francis said what he did is appalling, but to publish it & no one challenge him is as equally appalling,” Monye tweeted.

The Lions have also complained about the comment.

The PA news agency has contacted the Irish Independent for comment.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox