Rugby-Northampton appalled by Burrell's comments on facing racist abuse

Rugby Union - Northampton Saints v Gloucester Rugby - Aviva Premiership - Franklin's Gardens - 27/11/15 Northampton's Luther Burrell Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Andrew Boyers Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

(Reuters) - Northampton Saints said they were "saddened and appalled" to read former England centre Luther Burrell's comments about the racist abuse he received during his career and that they condemned all forms of discrimination.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, the 32-year-old Burrell -- who played for Leeds, Sale, Northampton and Newcastle -- said that racism was rife in the sport, detailing comments that were discriminatory but passed off as "banter".

"Everyone at Northampton Saints was saddened and appalled to read Luther Burrell's comments... detailing the racist abuse he has experienced during his playing career," Northampton chief executive Mark Darbon said on Monday.

"The club condemns all forms of discrimination and reached out to Luther to offer our support and applaud his bravery in speaking out.

"We were reassured during our conversation that Luther did not experience any racial abuse during his time at Northampton. The club will continue its ongoing work to make sure Franklin's Gardens remains an inclusive environment for all Northampton players, staff and supporters."

Darbon said the club had also invited Burrell, who earned 15 caps for England, to return to their Franklin's Gardens stadium in the future to contribute towards the Diversity and Inclusion projects being delivered by their community and commercial staff.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)

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