Rugby commentator criticised for 'golliwog' call

Tatafu Polota-Nau (Gallo Images)
Tatafu Polota-Nau (Gallo Images)

Sydney - A veteran Australian rugby broadcaster said on Sunday he regrets describing a Wallabies player as having a "golliwog" haircut during the first Bledisloe Test in Sydney.

The word "golliwog" - a black rag doll that became a symbol of racial stereotyping - was once widely used, including for chocolate biscuits manufactured by Arnott's that were renamed in the 1990s.

Gordon Bray was calling the Rugby Championship opener between Australia and New Zealand for commercial broadcaster Channel Ten when he commented on hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau's haircut.

He said he could not recognise the 33-year-old, who is of Tongan heritage, "with that short back and sides", adding: "What happened to the golliwog haircut?"

The television station said on Sunday that Bray had spoken to Polota-Nau about the incident and "Tatafu has assured Gordon he took no offence to the comments whatsoever".

"In no way did Gordon intend to cause any harm with his comments and deeply regrets his remarks during last night's broadcast," Ten told Fox Sports.

Bray told the Sydney Morning Herald he used the term "in an affectionate manner" and it was not intended to be offensive.

"I know the guy, I have great respect for him. When he played at Suncorp Stadium (last year) he had that massive hair and so I was saying it was hard to recognise him with the new haircut," he added.

The broadcaster was slammed for his remarks on social media, with one Twitter commentator writing: "Such blatant racism & ignorance of Polynesian cultures is sad & disappointing."

Another wrote: "Did the Aussie commentator... just use the term 'golliwog haircut'? Just checking it is 2018."

Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
44% - 5578 votes
11% - 1382 votes
18% - 2317 votes
2% - 280 votes
1% - 109 votes
2% - 282 votes
5% - 613 votes
8% - 992 votes
3% - 393 votes
Water sports
1% - 109 votes
American sports
1% - 119 votes
3% - 361 votes