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Gay rugby team to play in Super Rugby curtain raiser this weekend

The Sydney Convicts are out to discredit stereotypes that gay people ‘can’t play tough sports like rugby’.

Israel Folau will line out for the 'Tahs against Ben Smith of the 'Landers after the Sydney Convicts play at Allianz Stadium.
Israel Folau will line out for the 'Tahs against Ben Smith of the 'Landers after the Sydney Convicts play at Allianz Stadium.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

AUSTRALIA’S SYDNEY CONVICTS club will make history this weekend when they become the first gay rugby team in the world to play on the same bill as a professional match.

The Convicts will take on Macquarie University in the curtain-raiser to the Super Rugby game between the Waratahs and New Zealand’s Highlanders in Sydney on Sunday.

The game is part of efforts by Australia’s professional sports to tackle homophobia.

During the ‘Tahs v ‘Landers game, the Allianz Stadium big screen will also air an anti-homophobia advertisement featuring prominent Australian sportsmen — Wallaby David Pocock, Test cricketer Mitchell Johnson, Socceroo Harry Kewell and National Rugby League players Paul Gallen and Nate Myles.

“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,” team president David Whitaker said.

“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.”

Wallaby legend Nick Farr-Jones, who is chairman of NSW Rugby, said his organisation was proud to help the Sydney Convicts tackle homophobia.

“Rugby is very committed to making our sport welcoming to everyone, regardless of their sexuality,” Farr-Jones said.

“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.”

- © AFP, 2014

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