Rugby Union: Fitzpatrick refutes accusation of racism

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LOSING 15-9 to England at Twickenham was bad enough but yesterday Sean Fitzpatrick's ill-starred tour took a fresh turn for the worse when the New Zealand captain became involved in a race row.

All in all it was not the way he had intended celebrating the 54th consecutive cap with which he broke Gareth Edwards's world record. In a newspaper article, Brian Moore, the England hooker, accused his opposite number of verbal abuse aimed at Victor Ubogu, England's Nigerian- born prop.

Last night the All Blacks were denying any such thing. Ubogu, content to celebrate England's win without contention, would not comment and Fitzpatrick preferred to express his views through Ric Salizzo, the tourists' media man.

'Privately Fitzpatrick has strongly denied to the New Zealand management the accusations,' Salizzo said. 'Sean wants to say publicly 'I don't want anything to take the gloss off England's performance by getting into a slanging- match with Brian Moore' .'

Fitzpatrick's tour had already included the Phil de Glanville stamping incident at Redruth which brought forth an official protest from the Rugby Football Union. And now this. Moore said: 'In the first scrum Fitzpatrick came up with racist abuse directed towards Victor. To call an opponent a black bastard is very disappointing; simply not on.'

However, Salizzo replied: 'It is inconceivable that Sean would employ such abuse, especially as his prop and good friend is Olo Brown, who is a Western Samoan. Fitzpatrick is captain of the most multi-racial side in world rugby.' Moreover, 10 of Saturday's 15 All Blacks were of Maori or Samoan descent. But it is equally inconceivable that Moore, for all his notorious volubility, would have invented such a serious charge.

Eroni Clarke, moving from centre to right wing, is the only member of the Test side starting against Combined Services at Devonport tomorrow night. Tim Rodber, the England flanker, is listed in the Services side but is almost certainly unfit due to a shoulder injury.

NEW ZEALAND (v Combined Services, Devonport, tomorrow): S Howarth, E Clarke (Auckland), M Berry (Wellington), L Stensness (Auckland), E Rush (North Harbour); S Bachop (Otago), J Preston (Wellington); M Allen (Taranaki), N Hewitt (Hawke's Bay), G Purvis (Waikato), B Larsen (North Harbour), R Fromont (Auckland), L Barry (North Harbour), J Mitchell (Waikato, capt), P Henderson (Southland).

Twickenham reports, page 28

Leading article, page 13