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Rugby Championship/Bledisloe Cup

Rugby race row for Qantas

Rugby race row for Qantas

THE WALLABIES' major sponsor has been forced to apologise for after awarding a prize and posting a highly offensive picture of two rugby fans dressed up in black face paint at Saturday’s Tri Nations match in Brisbane.

The two men were impersonating Fijian-born Wallabies No 8 Radike Samo (pictured) as part of an online campaign driven by Qantas to show their support for the team.

“We apologise that the photo offended some people,” says Qantas spokeswoman Sophia Connelly.

Qantas asked followers on its Twitter page how they planned to show their support for Australia during its winner-takes-all clash against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium.

When a pair of fans said they would dress as Samo, the Australian airline company awarded them two platinum tickets to the game.

Sure enough the two fans – decked out in afro wigs, Wallabies jerseys and black face paint – sent a picture of themselves to Qantas, which posted it on its Twitter page.

It was labelled racist and highly offensive by those who saw the picture.

Qantas began hurriedly apologising to a host of complainants and took the picture down, but it had already been reposted elsewhere.

Samo, who posed with the pair after the game, laughed off the incident.

“These guys were actually paying me a tribute. It was a bit of fun, and I think they regarded me as their favourite Wallaby. I don't have an issue with it at all, I was glad to be in a photo with them,” he says.

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