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Watch: Who is Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ugo Monye?
Rugby player Ugo Monye has split from his wife after five years of marriage, just days before he is due to begin taking part in the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing.
The 38-year-old former England player said there is "no animosity" between himself and Lucy Monye, saying the pandemic played a part in their separation.
He told The Sun: "At times things have seemed a bit overwhelming but it’s been a tough period for us both.
"In some relationships there is a moment, a ‘thing’, that breaks the couple. It can be an exterior influence. It can be anything. But with us it was a number of things.
"We weren’t in a volatile relationship, we never hated each other and there was no third party. Forget the Strictly curse — it’s the COVID curse. We ended up where we ended up."
Monye said his wife is an "amazing person and an incredible mum" and they are on good terms, even planning a family holiday next year.
The couple share two daughters — four-year-old Phoenix and one-year-old Ruby.
Monye said he is "buzzing" to get started with Strictly Come Dancing and revealed that BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker has set up a WhatsApp group with all of this year's contestants.
"My dance experience is limited to nightclubs, bars and weddings — and with a Jagerbomb inside me I’m fantastic. But I’ve never had to cha-cha-cha before," said Monye.
He added: “Through all the bad times of late, it’s nice to have this ray of positivity and light — and the chance to wear some sequins.
"It’s the biggest show on telly, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Strictly is a proper institution. And it’s almost taken on a greater meaning for me now.”
Monye will compete alongside more than a dozen famous faces this year, including Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty, comedian Robert Webb, soap star Nina Wadia and presenter AJ Odudu.
The pre-recorded Strictly Come Dancing launch show is due to air on 18 September, revealing the partnerships who will be challenging for the glitterball trophy.
Watch: Matt Willis reveals why he turned down Strictly Come Dancing