What are the lyrics to Delilah and why is it controversial?

Welsh rugby choirs have been banned from singing the popular track due to its 'problematic' lyrics

Delilah singer Sir Tom Jones attends The BRIT Awards 2020
Rugby choirs have been banned from signing Sir Tom Jones' track Delilah. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Redferns)

Sir Tom Jones' song Delilah is at the centre of fresh controversy after Welsh rugby choirs were banned from singing the song.

The 1967 hit is regularly sung at Welsh sporting events, but officials at Cardiff's Principality Stadium said the lyrics are "problematic and upsetting" to some fans.

The decision to ban the track from international rugby games has reignited a long-running row.

As politicians and supporters wade into the dispute, here's everything you need to know about Delilah and its controversial lyrics.

Why are the Delilah lyrics controversial?

The lyrics of Sir Tom Jones' Delilah include reference to a woman being stabbed to death by her jealous partner.

Sir Tom sings:

At break of day when that man drove away, I was waiting

I crossed the street to her house and she opened the door

She stood there laughing

I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more

My, my, my Delilah

Why, why, why Delilah

So before they come to break down the door

Forgive me Delilah I just couldn't take anymore

Critics have claimed that the song trivialises domestic abuse and murder.

Wales rugby fans show their support during the Autumn International match at Principality Stadium, Cardiff
The 1967 song is regularly sung at Welsh sporting events. (Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

What has Tom Jones said about the song?

Sir Tom defended the lyrics in a 2014 interview, saying that he feels "very proud to be Welsh" when the song is sung by rugby crowds.

He added: "I think if they're looking into the lyric about a man killing a woman, it's not a political statement.

"It's just something that happens in life that it's woman was unfaithful to him and he just loses it."

A year later, the song's co-writer Sylvan Whittingham said: "Delilah is no more likely to cause domestic violence than listening to Mack the Knife would cause you to stab a prostitute.

"And what about all those great Shakespearean tragedies?"

Sir Tom Jones performs on stage during Music For The Marsden 2020 at The O2 Arena
Sir Tom has previously defended the controversial song. (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Why is Delilah being banned now?

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) removed the track from half-time music playlists in 2015, but fans have continued to sing it.

The new ban on choirs singing Delilah comes as the WRU faces allegations of sexism and discrimination.

WRU chief executive Steve Phillips quit on Sunday after a BBC documentary sparked claims of a "toxic culture" at the governing body.

A spokesperson for the Principality Stadium said: The WRU condemns domestic violence of any kind.

"We have previously sought advice from subject matter experts on the issue of censoring the song, and we are respectfully aware that it is problematic and upsetting to some supporters because of its subject matter."

Wales fans arrive at the stadium prior to the Autumn International match between Wales and New Zealand
Wales will kick off their Six Nations campaign against Ireland on Saturday. (Warren Little/Getty Images)

Who supports the ban?

Rhondda Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant said the WRU was right to ban the "very violent song".

He told the BBC: "The lyrics are about killing a woman and unfortunately on big match days we see a dramatic rise in the number of domestic violence cases across Wales, so it's good to do this."

Dyfed-Powys chief constable Richard Lewis said: "There's been a lot of misplaced criticism of this decision to stop singing Delilah. The song depicts the murder of a woman by a jealous partner.

"For context, approximately two women a week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner. It's time to sing something else."

Wales' Louis Rees-Zammit in action during the Autumn International match between Wales and New Zealand
Wales' Louis Rees-Zammit criticised the timing of the ban. (Ian Cook - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Who opposes the ban?

Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit criticised the timing of the ban, tweeting: "All the things they need to do and they do that first…"

Welsh Conservative sports minister Tom Giffard said the "wrongheaded" decision was "designed to ease the pressure the WRU are currently under".

He added: "Calls to ban the song span at least the last decade, yet the WRU have chosen now to act."

The Old Arcade, a sports bar in the Welsh capital, tweeted: "We will be playing Delilah… It will be loud… It will be on a loop..."