Racially charged comments about the Blues Super Rugby team’s poor form show there is an element of racism in New Zealand society, says Blues chief executive Andy Dalton.
The Blues’ slow start to the season – with just one win in six games – has brought on a number of comments on social media sites blaming the high number of Maori and Pacific Island players and coaches in the team.
Coach Pat Lam broke down in front of the media on Wednesday as he talked about the impact of the racial abuse on his parents.
“They sacrificed themselves for us to come here and have a good life, so it hurts my parents,” he said.
Dalton told Radio New Zealand on Thursday morning some of the comments the team have received have been “absolutely low life”.
He says the Blues welcome feedback on their performance through social media, but some of it has gone “far beyond the realms of reasonable”.
“It’s not racism within Auckland rugby – I think it’s an element of our society,” Dalton said.
“It’s a very ugly part of our society and I think we’ve all got a responsibility to shut that stuff down.”
Dalton says there is zero tolerance towards racism in the Blues organisation and he hopes this is the same for any New Zealand business.
Lam says he accepts criticism of the team’s performance, particularly from people prepared to put their names to comments, but the racial comments are unacceptable.
“It’s the faceless people, and that’s social media and so forth and talkback, when people say things that are pretty offensive, making out that it’s because I’m an Islander – that’s just offensive.”
Lam coached the Blues to the Super Rugby playoffs last year.