Sydney - Sydney account manager Jason Fowler didn't know how to tell his team-mates at Macquarie University Rugby Club he was gay.
According to the smh.com.au website, so he joined a rival team - Australia's first gay rugby club -
and let his football do the talking, helping the Sydney Convicts to a
14-10 win over his old side and coming out to them in the process.
''When I rocked up and they saw me they were a bit surprised that I was playing for the Convicts,'' Fowler said.
''I played with them for three years and I'm still good mates with a
couple of them. In hindsight, it wouldn't have been that big of a deal
had I told them while I was there but I felt like I couldn't express
The Australian Rugby Union on Tuesday took the first formal
step towards making sure the Jason Fowlers of the future don't need to
leave their teams to feel comfortable in rugby.
The ARU will become the first Australian football code to
specifically address homophobia in a new policy designed to stamp out
discrimination against the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and
intersex (GLBTI) community.
The aim is to have a robust and possibly enforceable policy
up and running in time for the Bingham Cup, also known as the gay rugby
world cup, which kicks off in Sydney this time next year.
Wallabies breakaway David Pocock, who has joined as a
Bingham Cup ambassador with team-mate Adam Ashley-Cooper, said he was
pleased the ARU was ''finally stepping up''.
''It's something I think is very important, that we are making our sport more inclusive,'' Pocock said.
''It's sad to hear stories of young players not feeling safe
enough to let their teammates know their sexuality and, in some cases,
being voted off teams because the team isn't happy playing with someone
Hockey Australia has a similar inclusion policy addressing
homophobia. Bingham Cup president Andrew Purchas congratulated the ARU
for firming its position.
''Unfortunately homophobic attitudes and discrimination are
the reason many people from GLBTI community drop out of sport from such a
young age,'' Mr Purchas said.
Fowler, the Convicts' starting halfback, said the ARU's
move was validation of the club's efforts over the years, and felt
almost as good as getting a win over his old team.
''I'd made the switch and I wanted to give them the impression that I'd traded up and improved myself as a player,'' he said.
''Most of them thought it was quite funny and surprising. We
had a laugh about it after the game and had a couple of beers. It was a
really positive experience.''