The Welsh Rugby Union has banned a senior sports choir from singing Tom Jones’ classic hit song, “Delilah.” The tune, described as the “signature” number by the Welsh icon and considered to be the “Welsh rugby anthem,” has been struck off the list of acceptable songs at Wales’ Principality Stadium because of its “problematic” lyrics. One report even suggested that the “popular ballad will no longer be belted out by fans,” but later conceded that the WRU “will be powerless to stop fans singing it.”
The row over “Delilah,” which the WRU banned from half-time playlists in 2015, stretches back at least a decade and boils down to lyrics which describe a man stabbing his unfaithful lover. In one refrain, Sir Tom sings: “She stood there laughing / I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more.” Following the ban, a Principality Stadium spokesperson said in a statement:
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.
Toby Young, general secretary of the Free Speech Union, described the decision as “ridiculous.” He told The European Conservative:
The policing of rugby songs by finger-wagging puritans is getting ridiculous. Soon, the only song Welsh rugby fans will be able to sing is Kumbaya.
Sir Tom has also previously defended the song, written by Barry Mason and Les Reed, insisting “it’s not a political statement.” He said back in 2014: “If it’s going to be taken literally like that then I think it takes the fun out of it. I think it takes the spirit out [of] why it’s being sung.” The ban suggests that some, at least, have decided to take the song literally.
This also follows accusations regarding the “toxic culture” at the WRU, which has prompted the resignation of the body’s chief executive. Without directly referencing the “Delilah” ban, Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit wrote in a post on Twitter: “All the things they need to do and they do that first.”