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Sport is inclusive and well-paid sportsmen must meet that standard — Gordon D'Arcy on Folau

The Australia star was sacked by his rugby union over an image he shared listing homosexuals among people bound for ‘hell’.

FORMER LEINSTER AND Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy has little sympathy for the controversy both Israel Folau and Billy Vunipola became embroiled in last week.

Folau last week shared an image on Instagram warning “hell awaits you” to “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators,” a move that flouted a warning issued by Rugby Australia last year about the homophobic content of his social media output.

Today, Folau has signalled he will contest the breach notice issued by his employers on Monday. Meanwhile, England and Saracens number 8 Vunipola has rowed back from comments he made in support of Folau’s stance after being issued a formal warning by his club.

RUGBY WARATAHS TRAINING Folau at Waratahs training last month. Source: AAP/PA Images

Many have argued that Folau and Vunipola should be permitted to broadcast their biblical interpretations as freedom of religion. D’Arcy does not disagree, but stresses that sport as an inclusive aspect of life, ought to be protected from such divisive language.

“Sport by it’s very nature is inclusive. It’s person-agnostic. It doesn’t care who you are,” D’Arcy said at the launch of the Aviva Stadium Tour.

“Sport is people coming together for an experience, in this case it happens to be rugby,  once you step away from sport your actions outside of that have consequences if you want to continue to participate in sport.

If you believe something, you’re into it and you feel the need to express it publicly and openly, there are ramifications to that.

“At a very basic level, if you start putting labels onto people in sport, you break down the fabric of what sport is. I don’t think there’s any ambiguity on that. People are entitled to believe whatever they want, but if you want to participate in sport – which is inclusive by its very nature – you need to understand that and participate in that.”

Gordon D’Arcy D’Arcy on hand to launch the new and improved Aviva Stadium Tour, providing fans with a unique behind the scenes experience the stadium giving them first-hand experience of what matchday is like for international football and rugby players. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He added: “Sport can’t have labels, barriers… and if you don’t want to participate within those parameters, fine. But there are ramifications to your actions if you don’t.

You can have that debate around free speech, have that over there. I’m talking about the banner of sport, which is completely inclusive. And if you want to participate in sport, particularly if you want to get very well-paid for it, there are societal norms which you need to step up to.

“Even when you get into a team (are you asking): ‘how could I play rugby with that guy’ or ‘trust that person’?

“What if there is a person on his team who is gay and hasn’t come out or one of the many things he doesn’t agree with? How do they function under the banner of sport? Because that’s not inclusive.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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