Player Spotlight: The Australian Wallabies
In 2009, The Wallabies, the nickname of the Australian National Rugby Union Team; which represents Australia in all International test Rugby matches, teamed up with the Sydney Convicts, a queer-oriented Rugby Union club, to campaign for more tolerance and inclusiveness and combat homophobia in sport.
The players posed for a series of photos for the Australian advocacy org This Is Oz, which seeks to celebrate diversity and challenge Homophobia in Australia, as well as around the world. This Is Oz is, in itself, a branch project of The Anti Violence Project at ACON, an org committed to helping victims of Anti Queer violence through support and working with the authorities.
ACON CEO Steve Clayton said of the Wallabies’ involvement:
“Having the Wallabies and the Australian Rugby Union demonstrating their support for social inclusion for GLBT people will hopefully increase visibility for the campaign, help change attitudes amongst some rugby supporters who might otherwise think its okay to be anti-gay, and send a message to young GLBT people that there is a place for them in rugby union. I’d like to congratulate the players and the ARU for their support and encourage other sports to get on board This Is Oz and help make Australia a place where everyone belongs.”
The photo project is backed by the Australian Rugby Union, which hopes that the campaign will send a clear message to supporters and the youth; that Homophobia has no place in Rugby, and it never will.
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Author’s note: As Rugby fan and ardent supporter of LGBT Rights, making this particular Player Spotlight made me very proud of my sport; because it shows that Rugby is a decidedly accepting game, which is sorely needed in sports, as it is a known fact that Homophobia and Heterosexism are rampant in Professional Sports.
The fact that the players themselves posed in the series sends a clear message that diversity and acceptance is their personal conviction, which would hopefully be impressed upon their fans and the community at large.