Sydney Convicts win historic match at Allianz Stadium
The Sydney Convicts became the first gay rugby team in the world to play at a professional match when they joined Macquarie University to play the curtain raiser at yesterday’s game ahead of the NSW Waratahs Vs NZ Highlanders at Allianz Stadium.
The Convicts came away with a win. Trouncing Macquarie University 30-12 in the history making match.
“The curtain raiser was a once in a lifetime experience for the team and I’m proud we made the most of this historic opportunity to show gay men can and do play quality rugby. I hope similar games are held in the future around Australia and the world,” said Convicts Head Coach and retired captain Charlie Winn.
“It was a tough, physical match with both teams very hungry to win, but the Convicts poured their hearts and souls onto the field, fighting hard from start to finish.”
Former International rugby player and retired Aussie captain, John Eales, proclaimed the Convicts as a team with a lot of talent and heart and said he was proud the of the league for breaking stereotypes and challenging homophobia.
“I am very proud of the Convicts for making history while also challenging stereotypes around gay men. They are a great group of guys and they put a lot of heart and passion into their rugby,” Eales said.
“Sports can and must lead society and be welcoming for everyone. It’s always disappointing to hear stories of people who don’t play sports because they fear discrimination. I'm sure that by holding historic events like this weekend's curtain raiser and taking other steps to publicly support gay people, we can help eradicate homophobia and discrimination in sport.”
The match was part of a series of initiatives - including the world’s first anti homophobia framework in sports - to end homophobia in sport. The match was organised by the Bingham Cup (the gay world rugby cup to be held in Sydney in August).
Image: Jay Claydon scores a try. Photo Rod Spark.
Many of the Sydney Convicts players joined the gay and inclusive rugby team because they didn’t feel welcome on other teams. This included Jay Claydon, a winger who joined the Convicts after experiencing homophobia on his semi-professional rugby team. He was named ‘man of the match’ after the historic curtain raiser for scoring 3 tries.
Another player, scrum half Jason Fowler, played with the Macquarie University Warriors prior to joining the Sydney Convicts last season. Many of his former teammates only found out he was gay when he played against them as a Sydney Convict.
“I saw a lot of guys on the field who I was afraid would reject me for being gay just two years ago. I’m amazed by how my life has come full circle and I can play against them now and be proud. In retrospect my sexuality was not as big a deal as I made it out in my head and my old teammates have been extremely supportive.”
Image: Jason Fowler gets amongst it at Allianz Stadium. Photo Rod Spark.
In addition to the curtain raiser game, a panel discussion on homophobia in sport was held during the pre-game show and a feature article on discrimination in sport ran in the program.
Check out the photos. For the full gallery, click here
A 30 second anti-homophobia video was also shown on the Jumbotron, featuring many well-known international athletes. This included Mitchell Johnson (Cricket), Ryan Harris (Cricket), Harry Kewell (Football), Alessandro Del Piero (Football), Paul Gallen (Rugby League), Nate Myles (Rugby League), David Pocock (Rugby Union), Lauren Jackson (Basketball), Nathan Jones (Australian Rules), Sam Mitchell (Australian Rules), Kim Green (Netball) and Libby Trickett (Swimming).
Watch the video