A former Ireland international has been sacked by Independent.ie following “offensive” comments he made about Lions fly-half Marcus Smith.
Speaking on the Independent.ie’s Left Wing podcast, Neil Francis described late call-up Marcus Smith, who was born in the Philippines to a British father and a Filipina mother, as possessing an “Oompa Loompa tan”.
“We find the remarks offensive and have written to the Independent to express our deep dissatisfaction,” said a Lions spokesperson.
The comment has since been edited out of the podcast but the original quotes and audio have both been widely circulated on social media.
A spokesperson for Mediahuis Ireland, publisher of Independent.ie, said: “Neil Francis’s remarks were unacceptable and he has apologised for them. The comments were initially released in the podcast last week but were subsequently removed by our production team a short time later. This should have happened before it was released and we apologise for the error.
“We acknowledge that Mr Francis says his comments were inadvertent but we have decided to end our relationship with him and he will no longer write columns or contribute to our podcasts.”
A statement from Smith’s club Harlequins read: “Harlequins is disgusted by offensive comments made by an Independent.ie columnist regarding Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith and await a reply regarding the matter.”
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5 things you didn’t know about the Lions call-up
Here are five things you might not know about the fly-half.
#1. Early life
Smith was born in Manila in the Philippines and picked up the game at the age of 7 with Centaurs RFC when his family decided to move to Singapore, he learnt the game there before moving to Sussex as a 13-year old. He has two younger brothers, Luc and Tomas.