Sunday, 20 December 2009

Rugby Men Really Do Make the Tough Calls

In the last week there have been two revelations from the tough men of Rugby Union. The first came from Scotland's Euan Murray who has refound his Christian faith and as such is not playing any rugby at any level on a Sunday. Then there was Gareth Thomas of Wales coming out as gay.

The former has made a decision passed on his personal belief and the later has made it known just who he happens to be. Neither of them should really have been headline grabbers yet somehow both are. For Euan it is following the footsteps of Eric Liddel or more recently Jonathan Edwards, but it is his decision and one he has taken which is being respected by his national coaches. As for Gareth as he himself says:

"I don't want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player first and foremost. I am a man. I just happen to be gay. It's irrelevant. What I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby."

Indeed that is what we desire for all out sportspeople, their race, religious beliefs, sexuality should not be part of how they are remembered, it is what they do in the field of play that is and should always be important.

Yet the fact is that so few of our sportsmen are able to be honest, maybe with themselves, maybe with others that this is actually an issue, so much so that it startles some of the rest of the world. Of course rugby is far ahead of some of our other sports as far as making these choices seems to be respected and honoured. Not since Justin Fashanu has there been an openly gay footballer in this country, though the chances are that there are several out there. Also could you imagine a footballer going up to Alex Ferguson or any other manager and saying they'll not be playing any games on Sunday this season.

It is tougher being the first but it shouldn't be. Looking at the reactions of both the players respective coaches and organisations you see that maybe there is hope in the world of sport, of course the fans are another matter. I know full well how anti-gay some of the chants in a football crowd can be, and yes they are worse than your rugby crowd, but maybe they will actually act well once it is less of a novelty. But it is the aim that all sports fans should really be aiming for a normality for all their players.

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