Only advocacy and remorse can repair the reputation of former Argentina captain Pablo Matera following the unearthing of his racist tweets, according to Will Greenwood.
Matera was stripped of the captaincy by the Argentine rugby union after a series of offensive tweets from nine years ago came into public knowledge.
que quienes las expresen, representen a nuestro país.
— Unión Argentina de Rugby (@unionargentina) December 1, 2020
Greenwood, a World Cup winner with England in 2003, spoke to Sky Sports about the long road of redemption that now lies ahead of Matera.
“I have the team sheet in front of me, he was 27-years-old at the weekend, which means he was 19-years-old when these Tweets were going out, fully aware and a grown adult.
“It’s just appalling, appalling language. One part of me goes: Well done Argentina Rugby, for stripping the captaincy immediately.
“The other part of me goes: How was Pablo Matera ever skipper having that against his name and record? It’s a really sad and dark couple of days for rugby,” Greenwood commented.
‘It’s incredulous language to use’
Matera was a member of the Argentina U20 squad for the 2012 Junior World Championship, the same year that he posted many of his racist tweets.
The former British and Irish Lion questioned how the Argentine flanker was allowed to represent his country at that time, believing that a similar occurrence would never have happened in England.
“It would be a long journey of rehabilitation to be able to get yourself back into the team full-stop, never mind have the ambassadorial role to be captain.
“You can go round the houses all you want, but it’s just incredulous language to use, in any century, never mind what’s going on now. I’m assuming there’s been some sort of remorse.
“What he can do now is become an advocate, ambassador, champion for diversity and equality.
“It’s one of those ones where, as the quote says, you can’t communicate yourself out of a situation you behaved yourself into.
“He’s put himself in a really low spot there and only through graft and application, words, work, remorse, contrition and actually getting out there and making a difference, can he go any way towards full reintegration at the highest level.
“He’ll play again for Argentina, there’s no question about that. He will be back on a rugby field, but those words will be part of his fabric and history ad infinitum,” Greenwood said.