A team is to make history by becoming the first gay rugby union club to play in a professional match.
The Sydney Convicts will play in a mainstream rugby competition against Macquarie University on Sunday (6 July). Australia’s NSW Waratahs and New Zealand’s Highlanders will also play at Allianz Stadium.
The event is being organized to help end homophobia in sport and across the world.
It will be only the second time in the world a gay team has been invited to play a curtain raiser ahead of a professional game. The first was at a French soccer game in 2006.
Nick Phipps, who plays for the Australian national team, said: ‘Sport is such a beautiful thing and in this day and age, there should be no discrimination at all.
‘After getting to know some of the boys who play for the Sydney Convicts, they’re really good fellas and we want to help them as much as we can.
‘Hopefully the fans also get behind the boys and show their full support, to end discrimination in sport and raise awareness about the Convicts as a team and what they stand for.’
Jason Fowler, a player with the Sydney Convicts who competed with the Macquarie University team before coming out, described playing at Allianz to be a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’.
‘Just two years ago I was afraid to come out of the closet to my teammates,’ he said. ‘Now I’m playing against them on a gay rugby team as part of a professional sporting event.’
Nick Farr-Jones, the chairman of NSW Rugby, said: ‘Rugby is very committed to making our sport welcoming to everyone, regardless of their sexuality.
‘I hope this 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.’
For the hell of it, here is Nick Phipps getting ready to be dunked at the launch event.