Maggie Alphonsi urges BAME people to make voices heard in sport

Maggie Alphonsi
Maggie Alphonsi made 74 appearances for England

Former England rugby international Maggie Alphonsi has urged people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to make their voices heard in sport.

World Cup winner Alphonsi, 36, is the only black person on the Rugby Football Union (RFU) council.

"If my voice has been chosen to be heard, then it needs to be heard," Alphonsi told BBC Radio 5 Live.

She added the death of George Floyd in the United States had led to "powerful conversations".

Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, died after being restrained by a white Minneapolis police officer on 25 May.

Alphonsi said Floyd's death had forced organisations to ask what they can do to change.

"I actually feel for the first time that this is a real movement and a shift in our society," she said.

"We're having these discussions now and I genuinely believe it will be around for a long time."

Former England flanker Alphonsi was elected to the RFU council in 2016.

She said: "There's always a part of you that thinks 'is it about ticking a box and being that token person?' But you need to think 'you know what, when I'm in that position I'll make a damn difference'.

"When I'm in that space I need to contribute and make a difference."

Alphonsi had earlier told women's rugby website Scrum Queensexternal-link her goal was to become RFU president, saying her sport "needs advocates" for people with BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds.

"It isn't good enough, though I believe there is a genuine want from the game to change things. I want to be there to make that happen," said Alphonsi.

"There has never been a woman in the role and certainly there has never been a black person. That is the level I think you have to get so people stop and listen."