Glasgow Warriors have taken a stance against the presence of Native American headdresses and the chanting of the “Tomahawk Chop” from Exeter Chiefs fans ahead of this weekend’s Champions Cup clash at Scotstoun.
The use of the headdress has been a contentious issue in the game throughout the year, with Premiership rivals Wasps calling for a ban of it at matches.
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter was quoted as recently as October by the Guardian as saying that the conversation was a “bit of a non-story” and left it to the club to decide whether to keep the headwear.
While fans are still able to wear the headdress and chant the Tomahawk Chop at Sandy Park, Glasgow has taken it into their own hands to request that neither be present this weekend.
In an open letter from former player and current Managing Director, Al Kellock, the club said that it had taken the decision following consultation with a working group comprised of Native American community members.
Exeter has used the Chiefs name since the 1930s but only adopted the Native American style headdress since 1999.
The consensus from the home fans suggests that the headdress does not constitute what Wasps claim as being “cultural appropriation” while others from the rugby community believe that change is needed in the game to reflect society.
The open letter from Glasgow Warriors Managing Director, Al Kellock
Dear Warrior Nation,
Since it was announced in September that we’d play Exeter Chiefs in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, we have taken time to consider our position on travelling Exeter Chiefs supporters’ use of Native American dress and chants at our game at Scotstoun Stadium.
Following the pool stage draw, we set up a working group to understand and educate ourselves on this sensitive issue and gather the views of our supporters, representatives from the Native American community, the competition organisers, and Exeter Chiefs themselves. During this period, several supporters asked that we ban headdresses and the ‘Tomahawk Chop’, and in October the Scottish Rugby Blog wrote an open letter reiterating these calls.
Today, Glasgow Warriors are asking visiting fans from Exeter Chiefs not to attend the game on Saturday (18 December, kick-off 5.30pm) with faux Native American headdresses or chant the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ during the match. We are making this request out of respect for the Native American community around the world, whose views on the use of their imagery and cultural heritage we support, and the Glasgow Warriors supporters who have called for us to act on this matter.
Glasgow Warriors is a welcoming club, that celebrates inclusivity and diversity and by making this call for action we want to live up to these values and stand up for the views of our supporters.
It is also important to acknowledge the branding journey that Exeter Chiefs themselves are on following their recent AGM, and for us to be considerate of that.
The club has informed Exeter Chiefs and European Professional Club Rugby of our request and has the full support of Scottish Rugby on taking this position.
In the meantime, we’re looking forward to Saturday’s game where we will have a packed stadium and will be accepting donations for the Glasgow NW Foodbank. We are hoping the collective effort of the Warrior Nation will go a long way in supporting people in Glasgow and our local community this winter. You can find more about what gifts will be accepted and where to bring them to on the night at our website.
After Exeter, we can’t wait to return to Scotstoun and the United Rugby Championship for the first of our 1872 Cup derby matches with Edinburgh on Monday 27 December (kick-off 7pm), a match that is always one of the highlights of the calendar.
Glasgow Warriors looks forward to seeing you at Scotstoun this December.
Let the league governing bodies decide rules and regulations.
Too many clubs are attempting to play the head teacher role, forgetting they’re a sports entertainment business.
— Sam Musteff (@ViewXv) December 13, 2021
I think future generations will howl with laughter at the idea of Scottish (or any) rugby clubs holding very serious discussions with native American leaders about what visiting fans can wear on their heads. Just my hunch.
— Roy from Melksham (@RoyfromMelksham) December 13, 2021
Well done Glasgow Warriors. Respect to you for speaking to the Native American community. It’s actions like these that will get the message across to the powers that be at Exeter that this is just not acceptable any longer.
— Debby Allen (@DebbyAl66202739) December 13, 2021