Ellis Genge: England star defends Edward Colston statue action

Ellis Genge made his England debut in 2016

England rugby union international Ellis Genge says the pulling down of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol was “warranted”.

Genge grew up in Bristol but now plays for Leicester Tigers.

“I’ve got a lot of black family in Bristol and we’re all proud Bristolians but at the same time, we didn’t want a big statue in the middle of a slave trader,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I think it’s warranted to pull the statue down after 10 years of asking.”

The controversial bronze statue of Colston was torn down and thrown into the harbour by anti-racism protesters on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a “criminal act” but it was supported by many, including Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, who urged countries around the world to remove racist symbols.

Genge, who grew up on a Bristol council estate, said he had experienced racial abuse throughout his life and it was still rife today.

And the 25-year-old echoed the views of England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling in calling for more black managers and coaches.

“The issue with rugby is that it’s been a white man’s game for a number of years and there’s not really any black coaches or ethnic coaches especially over here in England,” he added.

“I’d love to see black coaches thriving in this game, I think me and Maro [Itoje] spoke about it before.

“There’s not a hunger for it out there at the moment, football pays a lot better, so all the kids that I know that are young and in poverty, they all want to be footballers because they’re all icons, that’s the way they’re presented commercially.

“I didn’t even know rugby was professional when I was younger and I can understand why the youth and the poverty of today don’t want to be rugby players because it’s not the way it’s presented, it’s sort of put on this posh pedestal and it’s slowly breaking the mould.”

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