As Ulster prepare for their first European Cup final in 13 years, a dark cloud is massing on the horizon. Incoming Ulster head man Mark Anscombe stands entangled in a row involving a racist text message that was sent to Auckland Blues Super 15 coach Pat Lam.
All Black legend and Heineken Cup winning captain of Northampton Pat Lam received a message that referred to the Polynesian and Maori players in the Blue’s backline in a racist derogatory manner that allegedly involved the unprintable n-word.
New Zealand media report that the text came from Auckland’s ITM Cup coach Mark Anscombe’s phone. Soon to be Ulster coach Anscombe has confirmed to newspaper New Zealand Truth that the message did indeed come from his phone, but denies sending it himself.
“It certainly wasn’t me. Someone played a joke,” Anscombe said “I had a group of people here…My phone is always in the kitchen and someone sent something, which I quickly jumped onto.
“It was an embarrassing situation. Someone thought they were playing a prank over a few beers. I didn’t see the humour in it, and I texted Pat immediately.”
Rugby Punk has been unable to contact Mark Anscombe at the time of going to press and Ulster Rugby declined to comment earlier when contacted.
However, despite Anscombe telling NZ Truth that he knew who sent the message and that those responsible thought that at the time it was funny, he has so far declined to name them.
Anscombe added that he did not take part in anything that could be considered racist nor did he in any way support any kind of racist behaviour. “ something that I didn’t do, something I don’t condone. I know Pat quite well. I was quite embarrassed by the whole situation,” he said.
This is not the first time this season racism and reared it’s vile head in Auckland. Last month postings on the Blue’s website message boards and social media blasted Lam and Polynesian and Maori players in the squads to racist slurs. World Cup Winners Keven Mealamu, Ma’a Nonu, Isaia Toeava, and Piri Weepu were among those abused.
Prior to that Samoan-born Pat Lam broke down in a press conference when he spoke about the negative effect racist abuse was having on his family.