Pic: Ibon San Martin
As the 2015 World Cup is set to kick off, the United States’ national rugby body has affirmed its commitment to ending homophobia in the sport.
Last week, USA Rugby signed a memorandum of understanding outlining its partnership with International Gay Rugby (IGR).
The move follows IGR’s March 2015 agreement with World Rugby to promote equality and inclusivity in the game around the world.
The partnership with USA Rugby will specifically focus on the US, and aims to ensure registered members of USA Rugby are provided with the tools and education necessary to combat discrimination, be it based on sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, or identification.
“USA Rugby is thrilled to be joining IGR in the advancement of diversity and inclusion throughout the sport of rugby, as well to eliminate homophobia from the game,” said Nigel Melville, CEO of USA Rugby.
“Following in World Rugby’s footsteps, we are steadfast in ensuring that rugby remains and continues to grow as a sport for individuals from all walks of life,” he added.
USA Rugby said it recognises the right of any player, official, coach, and spectator to be involved in rugby without bullying, discrimination, or exclusion of any kind, and celebrates the differences that make its members unique.
While there are still no openly gay professional rugby players in South Africa, the game is seeing increasing openness in the rest of the world. In August, Keegan Hirst became the first British professional Rugby League player to come out as gay.
He was followed later that month by England Sevens player Sam Stanley who became the first English professional union player to tell the world that he’s gay.