Former Blue Bulls player Jacques Potgieter has been fined for using an anti-gay slur during a match in Australia on the weekend.
The Port Elizabeth-born Potgieter, 28, playing for the Waratahs, is believed to have called two Brumbies players “faggot” during a Super Rugby match at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Sunday afternoon.
Brumbies flanker David Pocock was seen complaining to referee Craig Joubert in the second half about Potgieter’s comments.
“You heard that sir… you can’t say that, there could be gay players out there,” Pocock told Joubert. He added: “… after that their captain said: ‘That’s rugby.’ That’s not right, we can’t tolerate that.'”
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) confirmed on Monday that Potgieter had admitted making “comments contrary to the Australian Rugby Union’s Inclusion Policy.”
He was fined A$20,000 (about R187,482), with A$10,000 suspended. He will also be required to undergo additional education and awareness training.
Potgieter accepted the penalties and apologised on Instagram for his actions. “To all the rugby community, fans and public. I sincerely apologise for the hurtful words spoken during the Brumbies encounter,” he wrote.
“In the heat of the moment I regrettably uttered a word, with no intent to discriminate. I respect everyone from all walks of life and would never intentionally hurt or judge anyone, it’s not in my character. I apologise for my actions and understand the seriousness of this matter.”
While Pocock was slammed by some on social media for making the referee aware of Potgieter’s language during the match, he’s otherwise been widely praised for taking a stand against homophobia in the sport.
The incident follows the endorsement of an ARU Inclusion Policy in August 2014, which is designed to stamp out all forms of discrimination and homophobia in Australian rugby.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said: “We take the issue of homophobia in sport seriously and want to provide a positive environment for everyone involved in Rugby. Comments of this nature cannot be tolerated.
“Our Inclusion Policy reinforces Australian Rugby’s commitment to ensure every individual, whether they’re players, supporters, coaches or administrators, feel safe, welcome and included regardless of race, gender or sexuality.”
He added: “I’d like to stress again that there is absolutely no place for homophobia or any form of discrimination in our game and our actions and words on and off the field must reflect that.”