“It's about playing rugby. We are a credible rugby team”
Players from Manchester Village Spartans chatted about gay and inclusive rugby with Sky Sports News as part of the TV broadcaster's support for Stonewall's Rainbow Laces Campaign 2018.
In an engaging and friendly interview, four players chatted to James Cooper in the changing rooms at Sale Sports Club about the club's history; the change in attitudes over the nearly two decades since Spartans were formed and, the future for inclusivity in rugby.
Matt Whitely, who was playing for the Spartans when the club became a founding member of International Gay Rugby - IGR, and continues to play today in the Spartans' 1st XV, described some of the changes he's noticed in the sport, on and off the field.
The group discussed why clubs like Spartans and scores of others around the world continue to exist, shedding light on the often negatively framed question players hear asked around the world, 'Why should there be Gay and Inclusive Rugby Clubs, there aren't straight rugby clubs?'
"The club is about being inclusive. It's not because other rugby clubs are homophobic, because in our experience very few of them are, if any. It's about creating an environment where gay people in particular but where anybody that wants to play for us can just trot up, get their boots on and get out on the park. It's about playing rugby."
Featuring footage from the world's first 15-a-side rugby union match between two gay teams from the 1999 match (between Kings Cross Steelers and the Spartans) and match footage from the Pioneer Cup and Halbro Northwest Intermediate League, the report was rotated on Sky Sports News throughout Wear your Rainbow Laces Day | #WYRLD2018
The report follows a week when the Spartans were featured in the souvenir match day programme for England v Australia and on England Rugby's website and social media channels in a variety of articles about the growth of inclusive rugby and making LGBT participation in rugby more accessible.
You can watch the interview, supplied courtesy Sky Sports.
What is Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign all about?
It’s about working together, whether that’s playing for fun, playing to win, or cheering on your team.
It’s down to all of us to be an active ally to lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in sport.
Every player, every athlete, every team is stronger when sport welcomes and supports everyone and it’s down to all of us to become an active ally to lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.
- It’s about being a team mate and taking responsibility
- It’s down to you to show your support for LGBT people
- It’s down to you to watch your language and challenge chants and insults about LGBT people
- And you can report abuse, (on or offline) whilst watching or taking part in sport
“When we all play our part, we can make sport everyone’s game”
Updated 22:27 - 29 Nov 2018 by Yosh Tazaki