England rugby star Denny Solomona charged over homophobic slur

SALFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Denny Solomona of Sale Sharks during the Aviva Premiership match between Sale Sharks and Saracens at AJ Bell Stadium on February 16, 2018 in Salford, England. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

An England Rugby player has been charged over allegations that he used a homophobic slur.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) today announced it would be pursuing charges against Denny Solomona, who plays for the Sale Sharks in the top tier of English Rugby, and is in the English national squad.

The New Zealand-born player is alleged to have used anti-gay slurs against Worcester fly-half Jamie Shillcock during a match last week.

Denny Solomona of Sale Sharks (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Shillcock alleges that Solomona “made a homophobic slur twice” during an altercation 55 minutes into the match.

A statement from RFU says: “Denny Solomona of Sale Sharks will appear before an RFU Disciplinary panel charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union or the Game, contrary to RFU Rule 5.12.

“In the weekend’s Premiership match between Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors, Solomona allegedly verbally abused a Worcester Warriors player. The incident occurred in the second half of the match.

“The Sharks’ winger will appear before a three-person independent disciplinary panel chaired by Samantha Hillas near Stockport on Thursday 5 April at 6:30pm”.

The referenced rule prohibits “conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union or the game”.

Denny Solomona of England looks on during a recovery session at the Hilton Vilamoura on November 2, 2017 in Vilamoura, Portugal. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The Sale Sharks have not yet released a statement on the incident.

The RFU and England Rugby have clamped down on homophobia in recent years.

Denny Solomona looks on during the England training session held at Brighton College on May 16, 2017 in Brighton, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Prince Harry recently met with players from one of the UK’s biggest gay rugby clubs as part of his role as Patron of England Rugby.

A rugby player was dropped from France’s official squad earlier this year after using homophobic slurs during a match.

Mathieu Bastareaud, a French rugby union centre who plays for Toulon, came under fire for comments he made during a Toulon v Benetton match for European Champions Cup.

The player referred to his opponent as a “f**king faggot”.

Mathieu Bastareaud (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

He was suspended for three weeks, and promptly dropped from the squad.

During a confrontation with the opposing team’s flanker Sebastian Negri, Bastareaud referred to him as a “f**king faggot”.

France coach Jacques Brunel had initially defended the player – claiming he could not be homophobic because he is black.

Brunel had claimed that Bastareaud knows what it feels like to be stigmatised because he “has coloured skin”, adding: “I don’t believe (because of this) that he could have acted in such a way.”

He insisted: “There are things we can say on the spur of the moment without thinking.”

The player pleaded guilty to allegations of verbally abusing Negri.

Incredibly, the player had his actions defended by his club.

Toulon said: “Rugby Club Toulonnais would like to remind everyone that the Club has always advocated and defended differences between individuals and the respect of these differences.

“The RCT is convinced that Mathieu used these unfortunate comments whilst in a state of aggravation, as can happen regularly during a game of rugby and that he is not at all homophobic.

“This kind of language should not allow people to condemn our captain who has always defended the rich diversity between individuals and proves it every day within our heterogeneous group of players.”

Bastareaud took to Twitter to ‘apologise’ for the incident – while he attempted to blame Negri.

He said: “Good evening everybody, I want to apologise for my reactions to the insults from the Italian player.

“I reacted badly in responding to his provocation, I am sincerely sorry for the people I hurt.”