Rugby World Cup chiefs plan to keep school choir national anthems

Rugby World Cup chiefs plan to keep controversial school choir national anthems despite criticism from fans and ex-players they’re ‘butchering’ the patriotic songs

  • Organisers in France commissioned school choirs to record national anthems
  • But supporters of all teams have criticised the renditions ahead of kick-off
  • Fans have struggled to sing along while players have been caught off guard 
  • Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results

Rugby World Cup organisers have no plans to alter the way national anthems are being sung at the tournament in France as things stand despite widespread criticism. 

The decision by French officials to commission school choirs made up of students from diverse backgrounds to do renditions of national anthems has been met with unanimous disdain from supporters on all sides. 

Fans from all nations, including those who have travelled to France and also those watching at home, have argued the choirs have sucked the life out of the pre-game atmosphere and made it difficult to sing along. 

For many, the anthems are a key part of rugby’s patriotic fervour. 

Reports in French publication Midi Olympique suggested the game’s governing body World Rugby will discuss changes to the way the anthems are being sung this week. 

England players line up for the national anthems before their Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina – but the decision to commission school choirs to sing them has been criticised 

Fans have been left baffled by the choirs, with some saying it has ruined the pre-game buzz

However, Mail Sport has been told that there are currently no plans to make alterations ahead of the second round of pool stage matches which begin on Thursday with the hosts facing Uruguay. 

Scotland’s Scott Cummings gets stuck into the anthem before their World Cup opener against South Africa

Before England’s opening win over Argentina in Marseille, the choir’s high-pitched rendition of God Save the King left Steve Borthwick’s players puzzled. 

The England team and their fans in the stadium were thrown off guard as they tried to sing along. They have not been alone. 

The delivery of the Irish, Italian and French anthems has also been widely slammed. 

Former Ireland international Rob Kearney argued that the pre-recorded videos of children singing are ‘killing that five-minute pre-game buzz’. 

Andy Goode posted on Twitter: ‘Can whoever is in charge of all the anthems at the World Cup please stop butchering the life out of them!’ 

Brian O’Driscoll, who captained Ireland from 2003 until 2012, told the Off The Ball podcast: ‘The anthems have been terrible! The two big anthems if we are honest are La Marseillaise and the Italian national anthem. Both of them feel like they’ve been butchered! There is no opportunity for everyone to get in behind it.’ 

Mirco Bergamasco, the former Italian centre, posted: ‘Can’t we have the anthems being sung normally please? The most important thing is the players. It’s a unique moment!’ 

Former Ireland international Rob Kearney said the choirs were ‘killing the pre-game buzz’

Andy Goode said the anthems were being ‘butchered’ by the pre-recorded choir renditions

The players of Wales and Fiji stand for their national anthems ahead of Sunday night’s game

Whether World Rugby changes the way the anthems are delivered if the criticism continues remains to be seen but for now, the current status quo is set to remain. 

Lesley Garrett CBE, who has previously sung the national anthem prior to rugby, football and cricket games for England, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday that organisers had not grasped the point of the pre-game ritual. 

‘The organisers have misunderstood the vital relationship between the anthems, the players and the fans,’ she said. 

‘They’ve misunderstood the purpose of singing at sporting events in my opinion. 

‘It’s absolutely vital through the singing of the national anthem that the team and the fans and the wider audience are given the opportunity to be bound together in what is going to be a massive endeavour. 

‘A lot of the choirs are pre-recorded and I think the whole essence of the relationship between singing and sport is the fact it’s all live and everyone is doing it together.’ 

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