Big push to tackle racism on Canterbury's rugby fields

A spate of high-profile incidents of racial abuse has seen Canterbury rugby tackle the issue of discrimination head on.

Racism in Canterbury rugby was thrust into the limelight recently when a grandmother was allegedly racially abused by a coach after her grandson's game.

Suburbs senior coach Jayson McRoberts told Three's The Hui every week his players hear racially disparaging comments on the field and sidelines. He also sees the effect that these comments have on his players.

"Some players will be a bit withdrawn and obviously hurt, and the other side of it, players will fire up and just want to follow that bad choice of words with bad actions - and all of a sudden there's trouble on your hands and the initial victim turns out to be the perpetrator in the end. The guy who said the racist remark walks away squeaky clean".

Racism isn't unique to rugby or the south, but the Canterbury Rugby Union is making a stand, launching its 'We all Bleed Red' campaign in May.

Canterbury Rugby CEO Nathan Godfrey says it is important for them to front-foot this problem and take responsibility.

"We're all custodians of the game of rugby, we have a responsibility in terms of our own behaviour but also other people's behaviour and calling that out - and we just need to understand that our behaviour can have an impact on others enjoying the game, and that's the strong message from us."

The 'We all Bleed Red' campaign will run for three years, with the hope it will be rolled out nationwide.

The Hui