Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) team Manly Warringah Sea Eagles has unveiled a new kit ‘Everyone in League’ to support LGBT inclusion in rugby. It will become the first team in this sport to support a Pride Jersey on July, 28 match against Sydney Roosters. However, 7 players from the Eagles squad have decided to boycott the crucial match over the team’s decision to wear the pride colors. It is an important game for Eagles if they want to make it to the NRL finals.
Pride Jersey Causes Havoc in the Locker Room
Sea Eagles claimed that they “were not consulted” for the Pride Jersey but only some of them raised objections due to cultural and religious reasons. Coach Des Hasler said that the management made a “significant mistake” and caused pain to so many people especially LGBT who the team meant to support. He further said that the club should have at least asked the players before making the move. As per the rules, same team players cannot wear different kits.
The 7 players who quit the upcoming match have been identified as Josh Schuster, Christian Tuipulotu, Tolu Koula, Haumole Olakau’atu, Jason Saab, Toafofoa Sipley, and Josh Aloiai.
Australian Rugby Seems Long Way from Inclusion
Sportsmen refusing to support LGBT cause sparked widespread outrage. An ex-Sea Eagles Ian Roberts, the first NRL player to come out as gay, was also disappointed in the boycotters from his former team.
It was heartbreaking for Rugby fans, especially LGBT, who were excited for big representation in this particular sport. It seems like they would now have to think twice about the kind of teams they support.
Some Question Hypocrisy
Many others tried very hard to understand the “cultural and religious” reasons that prohibited promoting gay rights but allowed getting sponsored by alcohol and betting brands. They said that these sportsmen get triggered by a Pride Jersey but would never boycott a match over some teammate getting accused of sexual harassment or other misbehavior.