Lions write to Irish Independent after pundit's Marcus Smith comments

Lions express ‘deep dissatisfaction’ to Irish Independent after pundit Neil Francis described fly-half Marcus Smith as having an ‘Oompa-Loompa tan’ in podcast… which saw columnist SACKED

  • Neil Francis made the comment on the Irish Independent’s Left Wing podcast
  • The Lions have written to the organisation to express their anger at the comment
  • The Irish Independent have since ended their relationship with the pundit 

The Lions have written to the Irish Independent to express their ‘deep dissatisfaction’ after pundit Neil Francis made a remark about Marcus Smith’s skin colour.

Francis has been sacked as a columnist at the newspaper for saying the Lions’ Philippines-born Smith had an ‘Oompa-Loompa tan’.

Player-turned-pundit Francis, who won 35 caps for Ireland, made the comment on the Independent’s Left Wing podcast.

Neil Francis was sacked for saying Lions star Marcus Smith had an ‘Oompa-Loompa tan’

The pundit made the remark about Smith’s tan on the Irish Independent’s Left Wing podcast

The newspaper said: ‘We have decided to end our relationship with Francis.’

The 22-year-old Harlequins and Lions player was born in the Phillipines to a British father and Filipina mother and has been living in England since his early teenage years.

Smith was called up to Warren Gatland’s Tour squad as an injury replacement to Finn Russell but has not been named in the 23-man squad for the first Test with South Africa on Saturday. 

Meanwhile, columnist Francis wrote in an apology statement: ‘I was, I suppose, making comment on how backs in particular turn out when they enter the field. At all stages this is what I meant by those comments.’

Smith was born to a British father and Filipina mother and has lived in England since he was 13

‘I would never intentionally or wilfully make a comment to disparage somebody on the basis of the colour of anyone’s skin. Never! 

‘The comments have been interpreted differently from what I intended and I apologise sincerely for that.

‘I fully apologise for any offence taken by the player and his family. I intend to apologise directly to him shortly if he is agreeable. I also apologise to anyone who also took offence to what I said.’

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