Tahs and Convicts will make history 

July 2, 2014
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waratahs

The Sydney Convicts, Australia’s first gay rugby union team, will make history this Sunday when they become the world’s first gay rugby team to play as part of a professional sporting event.

The convicts will play their Suburban Rugby rival Macquarie University as the curtain raiser to the NSW Waratahs’ Asteron Life Super Rugby Round 17 match against the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium.

Jason Fowler, a player with the Sydney Convicts, says many of his former teammates at Macquarie University didn’t find out he was gay until he played against them as a Sydney Convict.

“Playing at Allianz is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the entire team is extremely proud and excited to be making history. For me, I’m amazed by how my life has come full circle. Just two years ago I was afraid to come out of the closet to my teammates, now I’m playing against them on a gay rugby team as part of a professional sporting event.”

NSW Rugby chairman Nick Farr-Jones is also a Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 Ambassador. “NSW Rugby is proud to be a long-time supporter of the Sydney Convicts and their efforts to tackle homophobia.

“Rugby is very committed to making our sport welcoming to everyone, regardless of their sexuality. I hope a historic curtain raiser will help us continue to send a strong message that there is no room for discrimination of any kind in rugby, both on and off the field.”

It is only the second time in the world that a gay team has been invited to play a curtain raiser ahead of a professional game (the first time was at a French soccer game).

The event is part of wider efforts by organisers of next month’s Bingham Cup and Australia’s professional sports to tackle homophobia.

Said David Whitaker, president of the Sydney Convicts, “The Sydney Convicts are very excited and proud to be the first gay and inclusive rugby team to be invited to play as part of a professional sporting match. Often discrimination and homophobia is based on stereotypes that gay people are somehow weak and they can’t play tough sports like rugby. We hope this game helps to challenge these misconceptions while also raising awareness that homophobia in sport is still a major issue and gay people often still feel unwelcome.”

As part of the event on Sunday, Allianz Stadium will air a 30 second anti-homophobia TV advertisement featuring many of the most well-known athletes in Australian sport. This includes David Pocock, Mitchell Johnson, Harry Kewell, Paul Gallen and Nate Myles. The Waratahs will also run a feature article in the game program and include a panel discussion on homophobia in sport as part of the pre-match panel show.

This historic curtain raiser is one of three history-making initiatives led by the organisers of Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 to tackle homophobia in Australian sports. In April, they organised a joint commitment by every major professional Australian sport to ‘eliminate’ homophobia. The sports signed an ‘Anti-homophobia and Inclusion Framework’ and have agreed to implement policies ahead of the Bingham Cup.

The second historic initiative was launching the first national and international study on homophobia in sport. The study, called Out on the Fields, has already collected the stories and experiences of over 1000 LGBT people in Australia. Researchers hope more people will take part in the study, which can be found at www.outonthefields.com

Australians are receiving strong international praise and recognition for their efforts to tackle homophobia in sport. Les Johnson is Vice-President of Membership with the Federation of Gay Games, the world’s largest LGBT sporting organisation.

“This is only the second time we’ve heard of a gay team being invited to be part of a professional sporting match and it’s a first for a gay rugby team. We applaud rugby and Australia’s other major sports for being trailblazers and for strongly supporting our community. The historic initiatives being led by Australians are significant developments in the worldwide effort to end discrimination and make sport welcoming and safe for all.”

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12 Comments

  1. avatar Sasori says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    This is beyond rediculous. Lets make an all hetrosexual team to play aginst them -_-

    Or wait, maybe an all white christian team.

    And before someone sais, most rugby teams are all hetrosexual, I mean, lets create a team and specifically say, no gays allowed and see how that goes down….

  2. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    @Sasori:

    Or how about a team that has to have x amount of racially selected players… oh wait…

  3. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I think you miss the point though Sasori… there are and always have been plenty of mincers (I mean gay) players repping at every level including the top that have simply been too afraid to come out…

    This convicts side whilst being a vehicle for ‘coming out’ is ‘all inclusive’… no quota’s… I’m surprised it’s taken so long in Sydney of all places…

    Not all wooly-moofters look nor behave like Nataniel…

  4. avatar Sasori says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    @bryce_in_oz: I’m not sure I’m buying that it is not a “planned” event. 23 gay men good enough to play at a pro level just all happened to sign up for the same team? I do find that hard to believe.

    ” Australia’s first gay rugby union team” This sentence also implies that it is non-inclusive.

  5. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    @Sasori:

    Of course it’s planned… and of course any half decent rugby playing gay man that is happy to be ‘out in the open’ would sign for them…

  6. avatar Aldo says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    I would hate to be caught at the bottom of a ruck against the Sydney poofters, I mean convicts. Jees please no.

    Yeah yeah, great work you have an all gay team. Why the hell does that matter? Im with Sasori on this one, why not then create an all white Christian only team… Oh wait that isnt inclusive…Like having an all gay team is.

  7. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    @Aldo:

    Why does it matter?

    Well because Australian sportsmen are hugely homophobic… incredulously so… and it gets worse depending on the sport…

    Here’s a wee vehicle to raise some awareness of the problem… a one-off curtain raiser by a team that has won the gay world rugby cup several times now… and yes there are christian teams… and yes there are farmer teams… and so on…

    Guess what… none of the above are racially exclusive… that would be illegal…

  8. avatar DavidS says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    @bryce_in_oz:

    Just Australian sportsmen?

    ALL are…

    The point is that they are doing exactly what they accuse their heterosexual opponents of. They’re being EXCLUSIVE by advertising themselves solely homosexual in orientation, and differentiating themselves from their heterosexual counterparts in effect, claiming seprateness is still equality when this has already been held not to be by courts… but Australia does not have a human rights Constitution so this kind of discriminating practice can fly there…

  9. avatar Morné says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Look I make a point of not associating to any ‘exclusive’ club in life so I care very little for these okes and their mission while wishing them the best of luck.

    But it is funny that how anyone hardly bats an eyelid when a player thanks God at the end of the game or goes down on his knees when taking the field or even thanks his wife and family for their sacrifice in letting him play the game – I just wonder what will happen one day if a Springbok who get’s a man of the match award thanks his ‘husband’ for all his support.

  10. avatar Morné says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    But I guess that is the thing about belonging and associating to any kind of club of sorts. You have very little time, patience or understanding for those who don’t pay the same membership fees.

  11. avatar Aldo says:
    July 3rd, 2014 at 5:38 am

    Thing is Morne, that same sportsman thanks God or Allah or whoever he prays to, but is allowed to thank whoever he wants. I really dont have a problem with a sportsstar being gay, but I have a problem with us becoming so liberal and PC, that it is okay to have a gay only team, but there is a massive hoorah when their is a ‘whites only’ team, a ‘christian only’ team, hell what will happen if WP decides to have a heterosexual only team? Apart from having very few available players :soek: , there’ll be a hell of an uproar.

    Sure fight for gay rights, fight for human rights, fight for the right to wear red overalls to parliamiant, but when you try to make the world inclusive by being exclusive, you sort of miss the point.

  12. avatar Morné says:
    July 3rd, 2014 at 8:50 am

    @Aldo:

    That is why I say, belonging to any ‘club’ is a dangerous business.

    Homophobia, like feminism and race-based discrimination is currently big issues in our society because not too long ago (and still in places like Nigeria and Russia) they are deliberately sidelined or ‘excluded’.

    And I get sick of this whole issue around ‘human rights’ – currently there are only human wrongs.

    But enough on this topic from me.

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