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Zebo happy to take a stand to show racism is not acceptable in any walk of life

‘I’d be bulletproof with that stuff but it was important to not just accept it.’

SIMON ZEBO SAYS it was important for him to take a stand against the Ulster supporter who racially abused him at Kingspan Stadium to set an example for his young children.

The Racing 92 fullback was subjected to the abuse during the Heineken Champions Cup game in Belfast earlier this month, and Ulster Rugby have since identified the individual and handed him a lifetime ban.

Simon Zebo Zebo commended Ulster's swift actions. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Zebo’s return to Ireland was marred by the unsavoury incident but the Cork native has commended Ulster’s swift actions.

“Yeah, it was great,” he said. “Fair play to Ulster and their CEO, they were very, very positive and forthcoming in trying to help as much as they could. It was a pretty shitty thing to happen but that’s life. Those things do happen.

“Ulster were very good, the EPCR were very good and everyone at Racing was class. It’s good to be able to put it behind me knowing that there was a positive outcome, your man getting banned for life, has happened off the back of it. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again.”

Speaking in Dublin in his role as Paddy Power ambassador for the Six Nations, Zebo insisted racism is not specifically an issue in rugby, not from his experiences anyway, but that it was important he didn’t turn a blind eye to the comments that night.

The 28-year-old said the incident happened at some stage during the first half after he scored his try, but was understandably not prepared to divulge what was said, other than re-emphasise that it was ‘disgusting’.

“I’ve never dealt with anything like that before in rugby,” he continued. “From under five, six and eights, really up until a couple of weeks ago. I never felt a presence of that in rugby and I hope that was just a once off and nobody has to go through that because it’s silly. 

I parked that no problem. It’s water off a duck’s back. I’d be bulletproof with that stuff but it was important to just not accept it and turn a blind eye to it.

“That would have eaten me up if I hadn’t said something about it. I was obviously trying to defend myself but my kids will be privy to Google and all that stuff when they are older and I don’t want them to see bad stuff without me taking a stand on it.”

Zebo added: “A light was shone on it for a little bit and people were aware and some people were disgusted. It just freshened people’s minds as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. In any walk of life, that kind of thing is not acceptable, not just in rugby or sport.

“It would be interesting to see if a person like that had the balls to come up to somebody’s faces and say it. That’s the difference. It’s a cowardly act, a cowardly move.”

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Join us to preview the Six Nations with Simon Zebo, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey on Thursday @7pm in Liberty Hall Theatre Dublin.

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Ryan Bailey

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