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World Rugby apologises for mislabelling Chinese national anthem at rugby match

World Rugby apologises for mislabelling Chinese national anthem at rugby match

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World Rugby has apologised to the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) for mislabelling the Chinese national anthem twice as a song related to the protests in the city back in 2019.

According to the official statement of the HKRU released on 19 November 2022, the World Rugby television broadcast of the Hong Kong versus Portugal match at the Rugby World Cup 2023 has used an incorrect graphics caption when the Chinese national anthem was played prior to the game on 6 November.

“The Hong Kong men’s team lined up and sang The March of the Volunteers, however on the television broadcast a graphic was super-imposed on the live shots by the World Rugby production crew incorrectly labelling the anthem as another song,” the statement read.

The HKRU said no member of the Hong Kong team or management was aware of this issue until after the match, nor was any team member or management staff ever asked by World Rugby or its operational broadcast or production teams the name of the anthem.

Once informed of this issue, HKRU staff raised it with World Rugby, the following day it was subsequently explained that this was an error of the “graphics operator”.  World Rugby apologised to the HKRU for this error and has attempted to retroactively correct it on its on-demand and other released videos.

The HKRU has since requested a detailed timeline and explanation from World Rugby, as well as a formal apology from the global body to the government and HongKongers, and understands that this will be issued forthwith.

As part of the general review process, the HKRU has confirmed that the same incorrect graphic was used by the World Rugby broadcast production crew in the televised match footage of the Hong Kong versus Tonga match played as part of the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification process on 23 July 2022.   

The HKRU has expressed its “extreme dissatisfaction” with World Rugby for the serious error, “Playing or labelling the national anthem of China incorrectly is both disrespectful and hurtful to the people of Hong Kong and the nation. The HKRU also sincerely regrets any damage to the reputation of the city from the errors committed by the game’s governing bodies regionally and globally,” said the statement.

This isn't the first anthem blunder that happened at rugby matches. Most recently, the Hong Kong government has called for investigations into the playing of a song related to the 2019 protests during a match between Hong Kong and South Korea at the Asian Rugby Seven Series.

This comes as the organiser of the tournament mistakenly played "Glory to Hong Kong", a song associated with protests in 2019 as the national anthem of China at the men’s final between Hong Kong and South Korea of the second leg of the Asian Rugby Seven Series held in South Korea on 13 November. Within the video, the rugby players from both teams were standing shoulder to shoulder while the song was played. The organiser did not stop the song or replay the correct national anthem. 

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