Australian rugby player David Pocock has spoken out about last year’s infamous on-field homophobic incident involving Sharks player Jacques Potgieter.
In March 2016, Pocock, who is a flanker in the Brumbies, called out Potgieter (playing for the Waratahs at the time) for addressing two players as “faggots” during a Super Rugby match at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
Pocock has now opened up about the controversy in, of all things, an advert for Dove Men. And it works, brilliantly; helping to redefine outdated notions of macho masculinity.
The athlete, a Christian who’s been a long-time supporter of marriage equality, says in the ad that, “What happened in the game was a result of our team talking about homophobia in sport and agreeing we’re not gonna stand for it.”
He explains that “it was a split second decision” to bring the anti-gay slur to the attention of the referee. “It’s not right,” he adds.
Despite not regretting having taken the stand that he did, he admits that he felt “pretty down” about the backlash he received. Many rugby fans slammed Pocock for making a fuss over the slurs, arguing that foul language is simply part of the game.
“In not speaking up you actually deny part of yourself. I’m willing to take whatever consequences there might be, because for me, I feel that’s the right thing to do,” Pocock says.
The ad concludes with the question: “Have you got the strength to care?”
Potgieter later apologised for the homophobic incident, was fined A$20,000 and was required to undergo additional education and awareness training.