Gay Rugby Players: A List. Because rugby is one of the gay-friendliest team sport on in the world, we thought that there will be lots of gay rugby players to write in this list. Turns out that we are mistaken. In fact, you need only one hand to count the number of pro rugby players who’ve come out. The good thing though is that there are several prominent rugby players who are supportive of the LGBT community so we decided to include them here as straight allies.
Ian Roberts. We’ve blogged about this Aussie hunk before (see Ian Roberts) but some of you may want an update on the first rugby player in the world to come out as gay. From the world of sports, he’s now successfully transitioned to the world of cinema. This year alone, he’s co-starring in 11 films (short and feature length) according to his IMDB profile. These films are in various stages of the production process from filming to post production to that state where they’re just waiting for a play date. At 48 years old, Ian is a busy, busy man. Who says coming out is the end of one’s career?
Gareth Thomas. After Ian Roberts, one of the most decorated Welsh rugby union player came out as a gay man first to his coach who was supportive of him and to the rest of the team who were equally supportive. He says of his coach and teammates (via the Daily Mail):
“He (the coach Scott, ed) took me out of the team room to the medical room, locked the door and I told him everything. After keeping it secret for so long, I felt a huge rush of relief.
‘Scott said: “Right, I’ve got to speak now to three or four players in the Welsh team because you need the boys to surround you and support you. You can’t cope with this on your own,” and he was right.
‘He told two of my team-mates, Stephen Jones and Martyn Williams, and as I sat in the bar waiting for them, I was absolutely terrified, wondering what they were going to say. But they came in, patted me on the back and said: “We don’t care. Why didn’t you tell us before?”
‘Two of my best mates in rugby didn’t even blink an eyelid. Martyn said he never had a clue, would never have thought it. I felt everyone was protecting me and closing in tight around me. No one distanced themselves from me, not one single person.’
Gareth is the first (and, so far, only) pro rugby union player who came out while he was still playing. He retired in 2011 following an arm injury.
Mark Bingham: A rugby player in college as well as with the San Francisco Fog Rugby Football Club (RFC), Mark Bingham is most remembered for his heroism in one of the darkest days of American history. From Yahoo News:
The openly gay rugby player was one of the heroic passengers who led a revolt against the terrorists on board United Flight 93. The hijackers planned to slam the plane into the White House or the U.S. Capitol, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. Instead, the plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., killing the terrorists and passengers – but nobody else.
Flight 93 passengers learned from cell phone conversations that the World Trade Center and Pentagon had already been attacked. Bingham – along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick – formulated a game plan to overtake the hijackers, according to accounts from the phone calls.
The Bingham Cup, a biennial international rugby union competition predominantly for gay and bisexual men, was established in 2002 to honor Mark’s memory. The eighth edition of the cup is scheduled this coming August 2014 in Sydney, Australia.
All Members of Sydney Convicts: Founded 10 years ago, the Sydney Convicts Rugby Club is the first gay rugby union club in Australia.
We were hoping to find a list of the club’s current roster but we, unfortunately, can’t find one.
All Members of Rugby Clubs Affiliated With the International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB): If you think only gay Aussie gays are into the rough and tumble world of rugby, you are mistaken because there are gay rugby clubs all over the world which is why there’s IGRAB which is the umbrella organization of such rugby clubs.
That’s it for now fellow RugbyWatchers. We planned to include rugby players who are straight allies but we will do that in a separate post.