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Why, why, why did rugby chiefs ban Delilah?

02 Feb 2023 4 minute read
Tom Jones

Amid a week of controversy surrounding discrimination and misogyny accusations, the Welsh Rugby Union announced on Wednesday that fan favourite song “Delilah” would be banned from matches.

The WRU are currently in a storm of allegations following a BBC Wales Investigates programme which aired accusations of a “toxic culture” and saw Steve Phillips resign from his role as Chief Executive.

Plans have since been announced to modernise the profile of the WRU’s board with a woman to be hired for at least one of its new chief executive and independent chair roles.

But why is a song long thought of as the unofficial anthem for Welsh Rugby considered to be so controversial?

The 1968 Tom Jones hit has been a staple at rugby matches from as early as the 1970’s along with the Green, Green Grass of Home as a pre-match warm up of sorts for the voices of chanting fans.

The song itself won writers Les Reed and Barry Mason the 1968 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.

But the lyrics hold a dark tale of a jealous and possessive husband who discovers his wife making love to another man. When he confronts her, she laughs in his face so the stabs her to death before pleading with her dead body for forgiveness.

The lyrics read:

“At break of day when that man drove away, I was waiting
I crossed the street to her house and she opened the door
She stood there laughing
I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more”

The song has been sung countless times at Welsh rugby matches over the years by male voice choirs and in 1999, Tom Jones sang a rendition of the ballad at the legendary Wales v England match at Wembley to a sea of red shirts swaying to the music.

Picture by Chris Brown (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Opinion

The ballad was eventually removed from the match choir’s playlists in 2015 but this week, the WRU have officially banned it in a decision that has divided opinion across Wales as supporters prepare to flood into the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

In a statement the WRU said: ““The WRU removed the song from its half-time entertainment and music playlist during international matches in 2015. Guest choirs have also more recently been requested not to feature the song during their pre-match performances and throughout games.

“The WRU condemns domestic violence of any kind. We have previously sought advice from subject matter experts on the issue of censoring the song and we are respectfully aware that it is problematic and upsetting to some supporters because of its subject matter.”

Welsh rugby winger, Louis Rees-Zammit reacted to the news of the Delilah ban on with a Tweet that said: “All the things they need to do and they do that first…”

Chief Constable Richard Lewis of Dyfed Powys Police Tweeted: “There’s been a lot of misplaced criticism of this decision to stop singing ‘Delilah’. The song depicts the murder of a woman by a jealous partner.

“For context, approx 2 women a week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner. It’s time to sing something else.”

Labour and Rhondda MP, Chris Bryant has been calling for the song to be banned since 2016 as he felt it glorified violence.

He previously said in an interview with BBC breakfast: “It’s a very violent song, the lyrics are about killing a woman and unfortunately on big match days we see dramatic rise in the number of domestic violence cases across Wales so it’s good to do this.”

Although the song wont be played by the pre match choir or over the tannoy, the WRU hasn’t said that fans are banned from singing it themselves.


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Glen
Glen
1 month ago

So if it hasn’t been officially used since 2015, what’s the point of publicly banning it 8 years later?

Alun
Alun
1 month ago

Never liked it, never sang it.
Yma o hyd.

Riki
Riki
1 month ago

Because apparently a song about the unjust murder of a cheating no wife, and how the song clearly doesn’t Glorify it any regard is abhorrent. I guess some don’t understand nuance. Meanwhile there are far worse songs are out there and they are completely ignored. This is clearly designed to diminish any advantage for Wales and Rugby games. First it was demanding the roof be open, now it’s racism and Delilah. Next will be Cwm Rhondda and Calon Lan.

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
1 month ago

Wasn’t another Tom Jones’ song Baby, It’s Cold Outside banned as well? How many more of his songs are going to get banned? Green, Green Grass of Home about a murderer on death row? Burning Down The House? What’s New Pussycat?

stuart stanton
stuart stanton
1 month ago
Reply to  Iago Prydderch

Still room for ‘The Young New Mexican Puppeteer’ thank heavens. Prediction: Every pub in Cardiff will resound to Delilah this weekend. Just who do the WRU think they are? Our moral guardians?

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
1 month ago

I really don’t believe Welsh rugby fans sing this because they think it is OK to kill a woman out of jealousy. Obviously, the song is belted out because the tune is felt to be suitably rousing, in a general way. Ordinary folks don’t overthink their behaviour, and the lyrics are regarded simply as the excuse for a stirring burst of massed choral singing at the game. This song would be a totally irrational choice for a rugby anthem if that was not the case. But if we want to analyse the words, what we have here is sheer old-fashioned… Read more »

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Pathetic attempt at diverting attention away from more serious issues currently going on.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

“Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand? I’m going down to shoot my old lady, caught her messing around with another man”…

The devil always had the best tunes…but maybe the worst lyrics…

Meanwhile a lady who should be in long black boots is following a 1940’s playbook…

Gill Jones
Gill Jones
1 month ago

Diolch Prif Gwnstabl Richard Lewis am dy sylwadau. Does dim rheswm yn y byd sy’n cyfiawnhau clodfori trais yn erbyn menywod. Trist iawn yw gweld agweddau rhai o’r dynion sydd yn postio ar y wefan yma ar y testun hwn!

Karl
Karl
1 month ago

It’s a bad song with a chorus drunks can sing along too. I doubt many cared for the lyrics, just the hype of Tom Jones, when they started using it. Time moves on, time to find a new song. Tradition often holds back evolution.

Midge
Midge
1 month ago

Green Green Grass of Home banned for encouraging plastic turf.

It’s Not Unusual banned for being unusual.

Sexbomb banned for encouraging S&M

Burning down the house banned for frightening 2nd home owners.

She’s a Lady banned for cass bias.

What’s New Pussycat? banned for encouraging talking to cats.

It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World banned for missing out wo.. wo.. wo..

Last edited 1 month ago by Midge
Andrew Robinson-Redman
Andrew Robinson-Redman
1 month ago

The ever-so-precious Chris Bryant ( who thought it OK to pose in his underpants) constantly pontificates to others. Obviously, none of his constituents in Rhondda are rugby fans? Perhaps if he had publically condemned the vocal abuse of a fellow female MP in the HOC by another Gay labour MP he might have gained some support. As it is he is just someone who thinks it is his right to be blatantly selective in his faux outrage!!!

CapM
CapM
1 month ago

The way the laughing part Delilah is sung –
“She stood there laughing HA HA HA HA”
It’s clear that the laugh isn’t a woman’s laugh but most probably that of a physically well built pre-op transexual. If it weren’t for the knife I think Delilah would have laid him out cold.

Delilah’s suitor or maybe he’s her stalker is obviously a rather pathetic inadequate and homacidal individual but he’s also surprisingly “woke” as shown by his use of Delilah’s pronouns of choice.

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